A Saudi prince held at Beirut airport after two tonnes of amphetamines were seized from his private jet has been charged with drug smuggling, Lebanese authorities said. The prince, identified by media as Abdul Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was arrested with four Saudi nationals at Rafic Hariri International Airport on 26 October.
Police said they found 40 bags of Captagon Amphetamine pills and cocaine aboard the plane, which was about to depart for the northern Saudi city of Hael. The bust was described as the largest ever made at Lebanon's main aviation hub.
All those arrested, including the prince, have been charged with "smuggling and selling the drug Captagon", a judicial source told AFP. Authorities are looking for five more suspects, two Saudis and three Lebanese citizens, who have been charged in absentia. Saudi authorities have not yet commented on the case.
Captagon contains Fenethylline, a psychostimulant, and is said to be mostly used in the Middle East, particularly in Syria, where rebel groups reportedly fund their insurgency trafficking in pills. Drug-related offences, including possession, often lead to the death penalty under Saudi Arabia's strict Sharia law regime.
However, exceptions are reportedly made for members of the royal family, as authorities tend to turn a blind eye to the House of Saud scions' excesses. According to a 2009 US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, cocaine and hashish use "was common" among party-loving royal youths. The same cable claimed there were alcohol and prostitutes in abundance at an underground Halloween party thrown by a Saudi prince that year.