SIDON, Lebanon: Security forces are stepping up efforts to crack down on a growing illegal drug trade in Sidon, according to a security source, following the arrest last week of members of a prostitution ring in nearby Hlalieh.
The security source told The Daily Star that poverty and a high rate of unemployment was prompting young men in the southern city to become indirectly involved in the trade of the prescription drugs.
The Drug Control Office in particular has been monitoring the movements of a group of Syrian refugees in the city. Suspicious activities have apparently been observed in an abandoned residential building in Sidon. Police units have also upped the frequency of their patrols.
Security forces last week shut down a prostitution ring comprising Lebanese and Syrian women in Hlalieh. Their confessions led the police to another chain they had been pursuing for a while.
Dozens of unemployed young Lebanese and Palestinian men and women have been increasingly resorting to drugs in Sidon, with the majority returning to drug abuse after they have been imprisoned.
In 2013, the police arrested more than 300 people for selling and possessing drugs. A plan was announced in February last year to build a rehabilitation facility as part of ongoing efforts in Sidon to curb drug abuse and raise national awareness.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 24, 2014, on page 4.