Lebanon finds millions of Captagon pills hidden in fake oranges

Lebanese customs officers found millions of Captagon pills hidden in fake oranges, the latest haul of the drug.

Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said the officers found nearly nine million Captagon tablets at Beirut port in a shipment scheduled for a Gulf state.

The Customs Directorate said several people were arrested in connection with the smuggling attempt, Lebanon’s state media reported.

A customs officer told AFP the cargo was en route to Kuwait.

The tablets were placed in small bags hidden in fake oranges within a consignment of real fruit.

An investigation has been opened to determine the source of the Captagon, an amphetamine-type stimulant manufactured mostly in Lebanon and Syria.

Lebanon, which is suffering political paralysis and economic crisis, has stepped up its efforts to thwart Captagon trafficking through its ports following criticism from Gulf countries about a lack of co-operation.

This was the second haul of Captagon hidden in fruit in a week.

On December 23, Dubai police said they arrested four men “of Arab nationality” for trying to smuggle millions of dollars worth of Captagon into the UAE.

The more than one million pills were concealed in plastic lemons among a shipment of real lemons.

In April, Saudi Arabia suspended fruit and vegetable imports from Lebanon after more than five million Captagon pills concealed in fruit were confiscated.

Captagon is a brand name for the amphetamine-type stimulant fenethylline.

According to a European Union-funded report by the Centre for Operational Analysis and Research, “Captagon exports from Syria reached a market value of at least $3.46 billion” in 2020.

In November, the Syrian Army said it found half a tonne of Captagon hidden in a spaghetti shipment.