Lebanese fruit and vegetable imports will be banned from entering Saudi Arabia or transiting via the Kingdom as of 9 a.m. on Sunday in a bid to prevent drug trafficking.
The Kingdom has noticed an increase in drug smugglers in Lebanon targeting Saudi Arabia, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.
Lebanese products are being used to smuggle drugs into the Kingdom’s territory, either through consignments intended for Saudi markets or those that transit through the Kingdom on their way to neighboring countries. The most common products used to smuggle the drugs were fruit and vegetables, SPA said.
The ban will last until Lebanese authorities provide guarantees that they will take the necessary measures to stop systematic drug smuggling operations.
The Ministry of Interior will continue to follow up and monitor consignments of other products coming from Lebanon to see whether similar measures needed to be taken against them.
Meanwhile, Saudi customs at Jeddah Islamic Port foiled an attempt to smuggle more than 5.3 million Captagon pills hidden “artistically” in a consignment of pomegranates that came from Lebanon.
The intended recipient of the pomegranate consignment was arrested and the drugs were seized, SPA reported on Friday.
According to media reports, Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militia group has been pushing drugs worth millions of dollars inside Saudi Arabia hiding inside consignments of fruits and vegetable.
Weeks ago, Dubai Police arrested French drug lord Moufide “Mout” Bouchibi, who is known internationally as “The Ghost” for being involved in drug trafficking and smuggling operations across Europe.
The estimated annual street value of his operations reached US$ 82.6 million.
According to Saudi authorities, Bouchibi had been travelling under a false identity. He had also been on the run for about 10 years, using forges documents.
A team of officers were tasked to share information about Bouchibi with the French authorities and Interpol, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Criminal Investigation Affairs at Dubai Police Major General Expert Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri said.
“Our officers, aided by the Criminal Data Analysis Centre at Dubai Police, located the infamous drug lord and arrested him in Dubai within a very short time,” he added.
Bouchibi became a global trafficker importing 60 tons of drugs to Europe annually, Director of the General Department of Criminal Investigation Brigadier Jamal Salem Al-Jallaf said.
“In 2015, the Bordeaux Court sentenced Bouchibi to 20 years,” he added.
“As soon as our officers conclude the investigation, Bouchibi will be referred to the Public Prosecution for further legal action, and the UAE Ministry of Justice will determine the mechanism for his extradition per existing understandings and agreements with the Interpol,” Al-Jallaf concluded.