| 26 July 2021, Monday |

Smuggling and smugglers’ “surplus power”

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking has passed on Saturday, as if it was a normal day, especially in Lebanon, which is mired in countless drug smuggling files. However, smugglers insisted on reminding Lebanese about their “feats”.

The most recent of these “feats” is that the Saudi authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle 14.4 million Captagon amphetamine tablets hidden inside a shipment of iron plates coming from Lebanon.

This shameful shipment was seized by the Saudi authorities two months after thwarting an attempt to smuggle 2,466,563 amphetamine tablets, which were hidden inside a pomegranate shipment coming from Lebanon.

As a result, the Kingdom decided on April 23, to ban the entry or transit of Lebanese fruits and vegetables to and from its lands, after they were increasingly targeted by drug smugglers originating from Lebanon or passing through Lebanese territory. The Lebanese authorities did not provide any practical or documented guarantees to stop the systematic smuggling of drugs into the Kingdom.

Sources close to Sawt Beirut International (SBI) indicated that Arab and foreign intelligence reports show that Lebanon has recently become, under the cover of some de facto forces, a corridor for international criminal gangs engaged in drug smuggling, money laundering, and human trafficking in exchange for financial stakes.

The smugglers are aware of the ineffectiveness of the Lebanese authorities, or because these authorities are embarrassed from these smugglers who have a surplus of power which makes them ignore the Lebanese authorities.

The third scandal was the shipment of four tons of hashish, estimated at 33 million euros, hidden in a container of candy-making machines heading from Lebanon to Slovakia, from which it was supposed to be transferred to the Kingdom. But with the assistance and tracking of the Saudi agencies they were able to thwart the operation.

Practically, the number of drug seizures from Lebanon to the Kingdom from January 2020 to April 2021 was as follows: Inside shipments of grapes 40,986,500 narcotic pills, inside shipments of pomegranate 7,849.963 narcotic tablets, inside shipments of apples 4,335,000 narcotic pills, inside shipments potatoes 6.480,000 narcotic pills. And last, and perhaps not least, is the drugs inside the iron plates.

A question arises hereby for the concerned authorities: Is it to this extent, the apparatuses in Lebanon seem incapable of controlling shipments?

Sources familiar with the file said: The Lebanese apparatuses are able to monitor shipments and cooperate with external agencies, which facilitates the seizure of these shipments abroad, because seizing it internally may cause problems for some apparatuses that they can avoid.

These sources concluded: The result is acceptable so far, especially that smugglers have come to realize that the political cover has been lifted, and it is only a matter of time.