Smuggling drugs into Saudi Arabia seems to rely on creativity. The illegal narcotics have been transported via drones, boats, shoes, and now buses.

On Sunday, customs officials in the kingdom busted two buses for attempting to harbor thousands of illegal drugs into the country. The officials found over 184,000 Captagon pills, otherwise known as Fenethylline tablets, on board the vehicles. The buses were stopped at the northwestern border as they were commuting pilgrims to Mecca, the holiest site in Islam, to perform Umrah.

Mohammed Qaisi, the customs general manager, said the pills were hidden "in an artistic way."

"The narcotics were hidden in an artistic way and were placed inside the bag's lining," he said, according to Arab News. 

The drugs found on the second bus were foiled in the same manner. 

According to Arab News, Saudi Arabia is no stranger to smuggling during the seasons of Hajj and Umrah. Saudi Customs has been putting extra effort to prevent the entry of illegal substances. That hasn't stopped individuals from trying. 

In a 2015 interview, Abdelelah Mohammed Al-Sharif, former secretary general of the National Committee for Narcotics Control and assistant director of Anti-Drug and Preventative Affairs, said that 40 percent of drug users between 12 and 22-years-old take Captagon. Al-Sharif described drug addiction as one of the most serious problems affecting societies, pointing to emotional voids, family problems, peer pressure, and negative media as major drivers behind the crisis.

Not the first bust to be reported in recent years

Saudi authorities have been working hard to crack down on drug smuggling into the kingdom. In 2017, Saudi border patrol agents intercepted and arrested two Egyptians attempting to smuggle in hundreds of thousands of Captagon tablets. The two men tried to bring the 745,000 amphetamine tablets via a boat, which was meant to land near the Haql beaches of the Saudi coastline. However, the craft was spotted by marine patrols and stopped.

In March 2018, seven drug traffickers were arrested by Jizan border police after they tried to transport 618 kilograms of hashish into Saudi Arabia. Colonel Saher Al-Harbi, the spokesperson for the border guards, explained that "the guards foiled the smuggling attempt by people who tried to use fishermen to mislead security men."

That same year, Saudi customs officials caught a drug smuggler who attempted to transport more than 17,000 Captagon pills into the kingdom. Last summer, the kingdom's authorities revealed that customs agents at the King Abdulaziz International Airport found 925.8 grams of heroin and 4,972 banned Tramadol tablets hidden by a passenger entering the country.

More than 4,000 were arrested in 2016 for smuggling

In 2016, 4,656 people were arrested during 6,447 smuggling attempts. In total, 22 tons and 59 kilograms of hashish, 18,157,902 narcotic pills, 3,311 kilograms of qat, and four kilograms of opium were seized that year. Additionally, more than 3,500 firearms were confiscated from smugglers.

In 2017, the kingdom's Anti-Drug Authority even came out against the prevalence of jokes about hashish on social media. An official from the authority said that such jokes promote the use of drugs.