In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency Sana, a Syrian soldier displays Captagon pills, in rural Damascus. Image Credit: AP

Beirut: Security forces in Lebanon and Syria said on Saturday that they had seized two separate shipments of the banned stimulant captagon, the latest in a string of similar busts.

Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces said it “thwarted an attempt to smuggle four million captagon pills” hidden in a coffee shipment destined for Saudi Arabia via Jordan.

The pills were confiscated following raids this week on a storage facility in Bir Hassan, a neighbourhood near Beirut’s southern suburbs, the ISF said on Twitter.

It said it arrested two men behind the operation, including one who was trying to flee the country through Beirut’s airport.

A video it posted online showed a man ripping open a bag of coffee stuffed with narcotic pills.

In a separate operation, Syrian authorities seized “hundreds of thousands” of captagon pills in the southern province of Daraa, the official SANA news agency said, citing a security source.

“The drugs were to be smuggled abroad via the Jordan border,” Sana said, without specifying the intended destination.

It said some arrests were made amid ongoing attempts to clamp down on remaining members of the smuggling network.

Captagon was one of the brand names for the amphetamine-type stimulant fenethylline and continues to be manufactured, mostly in Lebanon and Syria, for illegal recreational use, mostly in Saudi Arabia.

According to an EU-funded report by the Center for Operational Analysis and Research, “captagon exports from Syria reached a market value of at least $3.46 billion” in 2020.

In July last year, Italy seized a record 14-tonne haul of the drug - or 84 million pills - that had arrived from Syria.