The Lebanese customs thwarted on Thursday an attempt to smuggle large quantities of cannabis into Egypt, local media reported, adding that they were packed inside a scrap cargo on board a commercial vessel that was about to sail from the port of Sidon.
Lebanon has scaled up measures to smuggle drug shipments in the wake of a Saudi ban on Lebanese fruits and vegetables after the discovery of 5.3 million Captagon pills, a type of amphetamine, hidden in pomegranate shipments from Lebanon.
On May 7, caretaker Minister of Interior, Mohamad Fahmy, inspected the Beirut port after paying a surprise visit to Al Masnaa border crossing where he toured the general security and customs center and inspected the shipping area where the scanners are installed.
Fahmy said Lebanon will work to combat drug smuggling to prevent further disruptions in relations with Saudi Arabia, asking “friendly countries” to help the country purchase scanners to inspect goods at at its ports and on the border with Syria.
On May 1, the caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said “Lebanon refuses to be a gateway for drug smuggling to any country including Saudi Arabia.”
His remarks came in reply to a question about the Saudi import ban on Lebanese produce after a shipment of Captagon pills was intercepted by the kingdom on April 23.
There was concern that the ban would spread to other Gulf states after the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman all issued statements in support of the Saudi decision.