BEIRUT: Authorities are tracking a drug smuggling network with branches in Lebanon and abroad after thwarting an attempt to smuggle 5 million Captagon pills through the Beirut port, Col. Ghassan Shemseddine, head of the Internal Security Forces’ anti-drug force told reporters Tuesday.
Three individuals, two Lebanese and one foreigner, were taken into custody Monday after authorities received a reliable tip on Aug. 6 that a large quantity of drugs would be passing through Lebanon on its way to a third country.
Using surveillance methods and trusted sources, authorities were able to zero in on a truck containing a large industrial air-conditioning unit making its way to the port of Beirut. The first search at the port using drug-sniffing dogs turned up nothing, but a second search revealed metal drawers inside the unit containing 4,614 bags of Captagon weighing 841 kilograms. The total shipment was valued at between $50 million and $100 million.
Following a news conference at police headquarters in Beirut, reporters were shown into a room filled with boxes containing bags of little white pills, each bag marked with a black and silver sticker logo.
Col. Shemseddine did not reveal any details about the origin of the drugs or their intended destination as the investigation is ongoing.
Shemseddine praised the citizen who tipped off authorities to the drug shipment and called for increased cooperation between the public and law enforcement, denying the smugglers had any political cover.
“We encourage people to cooperate in local issues, what’s happening on the street, or what is being smuggled abroad, we don’t want people to be afraid [to come forward],” he said.
Fenethylline, known locally by its brand name Captagon, is a synthetic stimulant used in some countries to treat Attention Deficit Disorder. It has become popular in Arab countries as a party drug in recent years.