Conservative Saudi Arabia Is Becoming a Hotbed for Amphetamines

30 Oct

A customs officer displays Captagon pills, part of the 789 kilogrammes of confiscated drugs, before its incineration in Sofia

By Aryn Baker

In strict, conservative Saudi Arabia, there are signs of a booming illicit amphetamines trade.

These days Saudi Arabia conjures up many images: oil, sheiks, the recent women’s-right-to-drive campaign. But amphetamines? This year, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime 2013 World Drug Report, 30% of amphetamines seized by counternarcotics officials worldwide came from Saudi Arabia, a country with less than 1% of the world’s population. That either means that Saudi Arabia has some seriously good counternarcotics police, or the country has a serious problem with drugs. Most of the amphetamines used in Saudi Arabia come in the form of Captagon tablets, the trade name for fenethylline, a synthetic stimulant used in the early treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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