Saudi Arabia has arrested 681 on suspicion of drug trafficking after seizing illegal narcotics valued at US$460m, official media reported.
A Saudi interior ministry spokesman said that the kingdom made the arrests over the last four months, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
The suspects - the vast majority of whom are not Saudi nationals - were caught with drugs including hashish, heroin and cocaine.
Authorities also seized more than US$4.4m in cash in the same period.
Last month, Saudi security forces had seized half a tonne of hashish on a ship off the country’s eastern coast, in a plot to smuggle illegal narcotics into the Kingdom.
A United Nations reported published earlier this year said that there had been a rise in seizures of illegal narcotics in the region between 2010 and 2011.
Gulf states remain key destination markets for opium and psychotropic substances, while Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iran continue to be hot spots for drug manufacturing, the report showed.
Government efforts to control drug crime were highlighted by researchers, who added that the quantities of drugs seized had significantly reduced during the period.
However, they warned of ongoing problems in certain areas, and of worsening conditions in areas of social unrest, where vigilance and awareness of illegal activities typically drops.
“The prolonged political instability and the escalating security concerns that prevail in parts of West Asia could indirectly contribute to a worsening of the drug trafficking situation in the countries concerned,” said the report.
“Criminal organisations are quick to take advantage of such situations, intensifying illegal activities.”For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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