Saudi seizes big drugs shipment
Riyadh, April 21, 2008
Three people have been arrested in connection with a drug shipment seized as it entered Saudi Arabia from Bahrain.
The consignment of 65,000 Captagon tablets had reportedly been smuggled over the King Fahad Causeway, but was swooped on by Saudi drug enforcement officials.
Sources said the consignment was seized shortly after it entered Saudi Arabia destined for Dammam on Friday.
'The seizure was made from a lorry that was on its way to Dammam in the Eastern Province,' said sources.
'The lorry driver and another man accompanying him have been arrested.'
They added that the alleged recipient of the consignment had also been taken into custody following the bust, which was the result of a tip-off received by the Saudi Drug Combating Department (DCD).
The nationalities of the men in custody were not known.
However, one Interior Ministry source described Bahrain as a major transit point for such consignments.
'This might have come from some European country, possibly using the sea route,' he said.
'It cannot be said how they managed to get them through.'
However, he declined to say what stage the investigations were in.
According to the United Nations (UN), the primary market for clandestinely manufactured Captagon has traditionally been the Arabian Peninsula.
'In this region, particularly Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, its use is prevalent among the younger, affluent citizens,' added sources.
Interior Ministry and Coast Guard officials refused to comment.
A Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said fenethylline (Captagon's commercial name) is prescribed to treat mentally disabled patients, specifically those with attention deficit disorder.
'For more than 20 years, this has been used as a stimulant in place of amphetamines and other central stimulants with higher risk levels to treat hyperkinetic children,' he said.
'It is considered to have fewer side effects and less potential for abuse than amphetamine, but it was only about two decades ago that the World Health Organisation listed it under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, making its sale without prescription illegal in most countries.'
He said it was not available anywhere in the Middle East even as a prescription drug.
'In small to moderate doses, it causes elevations in heart rate, body temperature, respiration, and blood pressure,' he added.
'In addition, a user initially experiences a dilation of bronchial vessels, extra energy and appetite suppression.'-TradeArabia News Service