IDF foils attempt to smuggle handguns, 35 kilos of drugs into Israel from Lebanon

Some packages bear logo previously used on bags of captagon amphetamine pills; troops detain suspect

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Drugs and handguns seized by Israeli troops following a smuggling attempt from Lebanon, October 23, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Drugs and handguns seized by Israeli troops following a smuggling attempt from Lebanon, October 23, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli troops foiled an attempt to smuggle firearms and drugs worth hundreds of thousands of shekels into Israel from Lebanon on Sunday night, the military said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, soldiers monitoring an area near the town of Ghajar spotted a suspect smuggling a large bag into the country, and dispatched troops to the scene.

The soldiers launched flares over the area and located the man, who was found to be carrying two handguns and 30 kilograms of an unnamed drug, with an estimated street value of 800,000 NIS ($225,000).

The arrested man, the handguns, and the drugs were handed over to police, the IDF said.

In an image published by the army, some of the drug packages bore a logo — the Lexus luxury division of Japanese car manufacturer Toyota — previously used in packages of captagon pills.

Captagon is an amphetamine-type stimulant manufactured mostly in Lebanon and Syria. Much of it has been bound for illegal recreational use in Saudi Arabia.

Israeli officials have previously called it the “Islamic State drug,” as it was supposedly used by jihadists to prevent fear and fatigue during fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Captagon pills have previously been seized en route to the Gaza Strip.

According to a European Union-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.

Captagon pills en route to the Gaza Strip seized by security guards at the Tarqumia checkpoint in the West Bank, January 7, 2021. (Defense Ministry, file)

Last year, Israeli security forces foiled several smuggling attempts of hashish and firearms into Israel from Lebanon, potentially on behalf of the Hezbollah terrorist organization, according to the military.

Hezbollah has long maintained control over the area adjacent to the border with Israel and is unlikely to have been unaware of such smuggling operations.

The terror group is known to fund its activities through drug sales around the world.

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