Saudi customs officials have caught a drug smuggler attempting to transport more than 17,000 Captagon pills into the kingdom.
The agents found the drugs – also known as Fenethylline – as the carrier attempted to enter the country via the Prince Abdulmohsen bin Abdulaziz Airport in the Yanbu province, Arab News reported on Friday.
Customs Director General Alaa Nahhas told Saudi media that a customs officer inspected a traveler’s luggage and found the drugs, hidden inside a wooden box at the bottom of a bag. The box was reportedly packaged with grain and carbon paper as camouflage.
The news came on the heels of the announcements that customs agents have also stopped attempts to smuggle sizable quantities of heroin into the kingdom.
On Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency revealed that authorities 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.
Similar to the Capatagon case, the Director General of Customs at the airport, Bandar Al-Ruhaili, pointed out that the narcotics were discovered through routine customs searches.
Saudi authorities routinely catch drug smugglers
Customs officers and border patrol agents routinely apprehend individuals attempting to smuggle large quantities of drugs into the kingdom.
In March, seven drug traffickers were arrested by Jazan 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 bust came just a few weeks after 35 smugglers were arrested attempting to bring 672 kilograms of hashish into Saudi Arabia.
"The confiscated drugs and the suspects were duly referred to the appropriate authorities for further legal procedures," Al-Harbi told Saudi media after the traffickers were detained.
More than 4,000 were arrested in 2016 for smuggling
Saudi authorities have been working hard to crack down on drug smuggling into the kingdom. Last November, 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 2016, 4,656 people were arrested during 6,447 smuggling attempts, Ministry of Interior Security Spokesman Major Mansour Al-Turki said last year.
In total, 22 tons and 59 kilograms of hashish, 18,157,902 narcotic pills, 3311 kilograms of qat and 4 kilograms of opium were seized in 2016. Additionally, more than 3,500 firearms were confiscated from smugglers.
Late last year, 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.