1,776 drug smugglers arrested in 8 months, says Saudi Interior Ministry
Saudi authorities have seized 22.4 million amphetamine pills and arrested 1,776 drug smugglers during the last eight months of the past Hijri year, the Interior Ministry announced.
Giving a breakdown of the latest statistics on its anti-drug trafficking operations, the ministry said there was a marked drop in drug smuggling attempts during the last Hijri year, which ended in mid-October, compared to three previous years.
Around 28.8 tons of hashish and 26.2 kilograms of heroin have also been seized during the period, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, the ministry’s security spokesman, told a press conference in Riyadh.
Al-Turki attributed the decline in drug smuggling operations to a number of reasons, including greater awareness among citizens about the harms of drug abuse and its negative impacts on the individual, family and society at large.
He also cited the increased vigilance on the part of security men and severe punishments handed out to convicted drug smugglers among other reasons for the decline.
Al-Turki said the majority of people arrested on charges of drug smuggling and trafficking were foreigners and Saudis constituted only 37 percent.
The ministry said as many as 467 people were arrested on charges of smuggling, receiving and peddling narcotics and psychotropic drugs in Dhul Qaada and Dhul Hijja, the last two months of the Hijri year, alone. They included 177 Saudis and 290 foreigners belonging to 29 other nationalities.
This brings the total number of people arrested in the Kingdom on drug charges during the last eight months of the past Hijri year to 1,776. On Sept. 1, the ministry had announced the arrests of 1,309 people in cases related to drug trafficking.
In their campaign against drug-trafficking, Saudi authorities have also confiscated hundreds of weapons, including 184 machineguns as well as rifles and guns, in addition to over SR41 million in cash, said the ministry statement.
It said the security men faced armed resistance from drug smugglers on several occasions. Twelve security men and two smugglers were wounded in the shootouts, which also killed at least one smuggler.
The ministry lauded the cooperation of the Customs Department, saying the coordination between the two departments helped security authorities to monitor and arrest the smugglers, and effectively prevent large quantities of drugs from getting into Saudi Arabia.