Al-Sharq al-Awsat: Warning that Lebanon has become a “smuggling platform” for drugs

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Middle east : Political warnings of Lebanon becoming a starting point for smuggling drugs and contraband to Arab and European countries escalated after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced the day before yesterday that it had seized a drug shipment coming from Lebanon, and Greece announced the seizure of 4 tons of hashish hidden in a shipment of machines for making sweets destined for From Lebanon to Slovakia.

The ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, Walid Bukhari, announced yesterday to the TV channel MTV that the motives for his country’s decision to prevent Lebanese products from entering Saudi Arabia are “security in the first place and aim to preserve the safety and security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its citizens and residents.” Bukhari said, in another statement to the Lebanese “LBC” channel, that “the smuggling of drugs into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its promotion reveals the extent of the challenge that Saudi Arabia faces from local and international criminal networks.”

The smuggling operations, which are affecting Lebanon’s economic relations with Arab countries, sparked a political and security alert inside Lebanon, and President General Michel Aoun called, within the framework of following developments, to a meeting tomorrow, Monday, at Baabda Palace, in the presence of Prime Minister Dr. Hassan Diab and ministers National defense, agriculture, interior and municipalities, foreign affairs and expatriates, finance, economy and trade, in addition to leaders of security and customs agencies, and a number of stakeholders in the agricultural sector, including farmers and exporters.

The Minister of Industry in the caretaker government, Imad Hoballah, called yesterday to “the necessity of disclosing those involved in the export of drugs in fruit shipments (and others) and announcing their names and pursuing them as soon as possible,” adding: “The story does not take months.”

The Lebanese ambassador in Riyadh, Dr. Fawzi, affirmed that Lebanon will intensify security efforts to prevent future drug smuggling to Saudi Arabia, adding that drug smuggling gangs do not care about Lebanon’s interest and its relations and harm its reputation, pointing out that Lebanon is not the source of smuggling.

Several factors combined to lead to a great activity of drug smuggling operations from Lebanon to Europe and the Arab countries, as the waves of smuggling escalated after the outbreak of the Syrian war, prompting Syrian smugglers to transfer part of their activity to Lebanon. The drug industry is active in Lebanon and neighboring Syria, and the industry has become more popular, used and exported with the expansion of the Syrian conflict.

The waves of smuggling have escalated from the Beirut port in the past months, after the last August 4 explosion, as smugglers take advantage of the absence of security equipment to check trucks and goods to pass what they hide to ships and containers before they set off to smuggling destinations, and one of the most prominent of these equipment is the scanner machine. (Scanner), as the Lebanese authorities have not yet provided a replacement for the detection machines that were present in the port and were destroyed.

During the past months, the Lebanese security services have repeatedly succeeded in thwarting massive smuggling operations to the Gulf markets, especially Saudi Arabia, and to European countries. On February 3, customs seized five million Captagon pills in the port of Beirut, which were supposed to be sent to Greece and then Saudi Arabia.

On February 20, the Lebanese security forces stopped the “mastermind” of drug smuggling operations to European countries through managish bakeries exported from Lebanon, and the General Directorate of Internal Security Forces said that “through vigorous monitoring and follow-up operations, and in coordination with the Information Division, an identity has been determined. One of the most dangerous members of the aforementioned network and its mastermind, a Syrian, born in 1969. ” The same man had carried out a drug smuggling operation months ago to France. On November 20, the competent French authorities seized about 465 kilograms of hashish al-Kif, professionally hidden inside two furnaces, and arrested those involved on its territory. After that, the members of the network decided to change the direction of smuggling to the Gulf countries.

In April 2020, the Internal Security Forces foiled an attempt to smuggle 25 tons of drugs in an operation that is the largest in Lebanon’s history, and was destined to go to an African country.

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