Saudi police bust uncovers millions of amphetamine pills hidden in packets of Mate green tea

Saudi police bust uncovers millions of amphetamine pills hidden in packets of Mate green tea
2 min read
30 April, 2020
Saudi Arabia says it has seized 44.7 million amphetamine pills smuggled in Mate packets.
Saudi Arabia claims to have seized 44 million pills of Captagon [Twitter/@SaudiCustoms]
Saudi Arabia claims to have thwarted two drug smuggling operations and seized 44.7 million amphetamine pills smuggled in Mate packets - a type of green tea popular in Syria.

A joint operation by Saudi Customs and the General Directorate of Narcotics Control reportedly led to the seizure of the drugs at Al-Batha Port and King Abdullah Port in Rabigh.

A video shared on Wednesday by Saudi Customs on Twitter depicts the two operations. The drugs were smuggled in packets of Mate - a caffeine-rich drink.

The customs agency said it seized almost fifty million pills of Captagon - one of the brand names for the drug fenethylline.

Fenethylline is a combination of amphetamine and theophylline.

Six people were arrested in the operations, Saudi media reported.

Captagon abuse is common throughout the Middle East, with counterfeit versions of the drug (mostly amphetamine-based rather than fenethylline) readily available - although illegal - in many Arab countries.

The drug was invented in Germany in the 1960s to treat ADHD and sleep disorders. A highly addictive substance, it was banned throughout most of the world in the 1980s.

Saudi Arabia consumes more of the drug than anywhere else in the world.

But Syrian-produced Captagon has also played a role in the country's eight-year civil war, with profits from the multimillion-dollar trade in recent years being used to fund weapons.

The Syrian regime, extremist groups and rebel factions have been accused of using the stimulant to keep fighters on the battlefield for longer.

Cash-strapped Damascus has been accused of manufacturing and distributing the pills through drug gangs in the region for extra money.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected