Lebanon arrests Saudi at airport with 10 kg of captagon drug

Captagon pills, such as these ones seized by Syrian authorities in 2016, have been widely used by fighters in Syria's civil war (AFP Photo/LOUAI BESHARA)

Beirut (AFP) - Lebanon has arrested a Saudi man at Beirut airport carrying about 10 kilograms of the amphetamine-like drug captagon, said authorities cited in local media.

"The airport's security service, in coordination with the army intelligence directorate, arrested... Saudi citizen H. al-Ruwayli as he was leaving the airport with about 10 kilos of captagon," the NNA state news agency said.

It did not say whether he was arriving in or leaving Lebanon, and security services were not immediately available for comment.

Captagon is an amphetamine manufactured in Lebanon and probably also in Syria and Iraq, mainly for consumption in Saudi Arabia, according to the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT).

It is also one of the most commonly used drugs in the Syrian war, where fighters say it helps them stay awake for days and numbs their senses, giving them stamina for long battles and allowing them to kill with abandon.

Lebanon has previously stopped several shipments of the drug to Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia.

In April, Lebanese police seized more than 800,000 captagon pills they said were worth more than $12 million, in an operation coordinated with Saudi authorities.

In July last year, at least eight people involved in drug trafficking were killed and about 40 arrested in an exchange of fire with soldiers during an operation in eastern Lebanon, the army said.

In one of the country's largest busts, Lebanon arrested a Saudi prince and four other Saudi nationals in October 2015 for attempting to smuggle out nearly two tonnes of captagon via Beirut's airport.