Saudi Arabian prince, Abdul Mohsen bin Walid al-Saud, was arrested by Lebanese officials on Monday, after allegedly attempting to smuggle two tons of amphetamines out of Lebanon aboard his private jet.
Lebanese officials report that authorities at the Beirut international airport have successfully foiled the country’s largest drug smuggling operation by detaining four individuals including a Saudi prince. The drugs, an amphetamine called Captagon, were loaded into 40 suitcases and stamped with the Saudi prince’s seal, Al-Jazeera reports.
Captagon, a drug largely unknown outside the Middle East, is the street name for the amphetamine Phenethylline, a drug first developed in the 60s to treat hyperactivity and narcolepsy. Banned in the 1980s for being too addictive, the drug has found a home on the streets of war-torn Syria and Lebanon. Like methamphetamine, the drug is easily manufactured with store-bought ingredients and sold throughout the Middle East.
Popular with both ISIS fighters and Hezbollah militants on the ground in Syria, the drug has found use on all sides of the Syrian conflict in recent years. Fighters use it to stay alert in battle, and it has a street value of around $20 a pill.
The Saudi prince at the center of the smuggling operation is alleged to have been in possession of some 15 million pills with an estimated street value of around $300 million.
Captagon manufacturing thrives in Lebanon. The UN Office of Drugs and Crime released a report in 2014 which estimated that the amphetamine market in the Middle East was one of the largest in the world and accounted for some 55 percent of all amphetamines seized by law enforcement worldwide.
The seizure which occurred at the Beirut International Airport comes at a tense time for the Saudi royal family, who support the Sunni militias fighting against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The Shiite militia, Hezbollah, which has significant influence in Lebanon, supports the Assad regime. The Beirut International Airport is known to be controlled by Hezbollah, and there has been some suspicion that the drug seizure occurred as a result of Saudi involvement in Syria.
This isn’t the first time in recent months that the Saudi royal family has found itself in hot water.
In September, another Saudi prince was arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly forcing himself on a woman at his lavish Beverly Hills estate. The attack was reported by a neighbor who told the Los Angeles Times that he saw a bleeding woman screaming for help as she tried to climb the Saudi prince’s eight-foot wall which surrounds the property.
Around twenty people were at the residence at the time of the attack, and after police entered the residence and questioned witnesses, they arrested 28-year-old Saudi prince, Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud, for sexual assault.
A civil lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges that there were more victims of the Saudi prince’s advances. The suit, filed by three women using pseudonyms, allege that they were forced to perform “extreme” sex acts on the Saudi prince over a period of several days.
The suit seeks unspecified damages but alleges that the attack endured by the women is part of an ongoing pattern of behavior, and they’re not the first nor the only victims of such attacks.
“The allegations against him are false,” the Saudi prince’s attorney tells the Los Angeles Times. “The decision by the D.A.’s office not to file [felony] charges shows that the accuser’s stories cannot be substantiated. The sheik is very happy to put it behind him and move on with his life.”
The suit, filed on September 25th of this year, is ongoing. However, the felony charges against the Saudi prince have since been reduced to a misdemeanor for lack of evidence.
[Photos by Getty Images]