Incident reports relating to the abuse of drugs and their trafficking
The police recorded 1225 incident reports relating to the misuse of illegal drugs in 2013, up by 5.4% from 2012 and down by 10.5% from 2005, when 1369 reports were filed.
The 2013 reports on drug dealing totaled 860 compared to 703 in 2012 and 545 in 2005, up by 22.3% and 57.8% respectively.
Table 1 illustrates the number of offences resulting from the misuse of drugs and their trafficking between 2005 and 2013:
Number of offences resulting from the misuse of drugs and their trafficking between 2005 and 2013
% of change 2012/13
% of change 2005/2013
Source: Internal Security Forces records
Drug addicts: who are they?
Studies conducted on a sample of detained drug users in the past few years revealed that the most consumed substances are:
- Cannabis (available at affordable prices): 39%
- Heroin: 30%
- Cocaine: 18%
- Narcotics: 13%
By age, most drug addicts across samples were between 21 and 30 years of age.
- Under 20 years of age: 25%
- Between 21 and 30: 32%
- Between 31 and 40: 16%
- Between 41 and 50: 14%
- Between 51 and 60: 10%
- Above 60: 3%
With respect to their social status, 43% of addicts were married against 57% who were single. There was an overwhelming majority of men among substance abusers, 80%, while females accounted for 20% of the sample. According to their socio-economic status, a large number of addicts, 47%, came from a low socio-economic background, against 25% from a middle class and 28% from a high social background.
Unveiling major drug smuggling cases (2012-2013)
- December 9, 2012: Security forces arrested two Lebanese men and a woman on drug use and smuggling charges. 41.6 grams of cocaine and heroin were found on the drug mules.
- December 23, 2012: Security forces found narcotics stuffed inside a potato while inspecting the luggage of a prison inmate in the Nabatieh prison.
- January 16, 2013: Airport Security arrested a Syrian national at Rafic Hariri International Airport for attempting to smuggle 4730 grams of narcotic pills into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The smuggler claimed that he had been given the bag containing the drugs by another Syrian, who had moved with him from Syria to Chtoura and had paid for his ticket to deliver the baggage as a gift to a Saudi.
- January 28, 2013: Security forces arrested two Egyptian nationals and one Lebanese after foiling their attempt to smuggle 5530 Tramadol pills weighing 2200 grams from Lebanon to Egypt through Rafic Hariri International Airport.
- May 13, 2013: Airport Security thwarted an attempt to smuggle 7,750 grams of heroin packed in three nylon bags to Belgium. X-ray inspection of the baggage flagged two rugs packed in the smuggler’s bags as “suspicious” and upon checking them out, it turned out that they contained 3,850 grams of heroin stuffed into fine tubes. The detainee had accepted to smuggle the drugs in order to pay off a sum of USD 40,000 he had borrowed at a 10% interest rate from a Lebanese residing in Belgium, following the decline in his car business. The creditor allowed him to settle his debt by smuggling bags of drugs from Belgium to Germany in exchange for 10,000 Euros.
- May 17, 2013: Security agents arrested a Venezuelan national at Rafic Hariri International Airport on drug smuggling charges. After his referral to the Central Anti-drug Office for abdominal radiography, the detainee admitted to having swallowed 55 capsules of cocaine, weighing around 800 grams, and to have taken a Primperan injection to prevent his vomiting the capsules, all in exchange for USD 7500.
- June 22, 2013: Airport Security arrested a Lebanese national holding a Venezuelan passport after seizing 4300 grams of cocaine from his two double-padded bags. The detainee said that the drugs had been sent from a Brazilian man to his nephew in Tunisia and that he had been assigned to smuggle them from Tunisia to Lebanon in exchange for USD 20,000. He was supposed to swap the bags with a member of Al-Masri family from the town of Kfartaala for USD 140,000. He also admitted to smoking cannabis and to obtaining the drug from a Lebanese dealer living in Baalbeck in the Sherwani neighborhood.
- June 27, 2013: A 27-year-old Lebanese female was arrested in Dahr el-Baidar for possessing 3 grams of weed.
- September 13, 2013: Two Syrians, known by their initials K.K. and F.K., were arrested for attempting to smuggle approximately 50 pills of Captagon to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- September 30, 2013: Security forces arrested two Lebanese, known by their initials M.G. and W.G. in Bhamdoun on charges of manufacturing and smuggling drugs and seized 940 kilograms of cocaine and 1580 Captagon pills from a third accomplice A.S. who was arrested the next day. Investigations revealed that the detainees had imported their Captagon ingredients from Syria and used a special machine to manufacture the drug.
- October 14, 2013: Airport Security arrested a Lebanese woman with the initials D.K.D. for attempting to smuggle 165 grams of weed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in her underwear. The woman was allegedly promised USD 150,000 from a man with the initials W.T. to carry out the operation so that she could pay off her bank debts.
- October 21, 2013: Security forces seized two truckloads of weed in the houses of T.S. and R.T in Ainata, Al-Arz.
- October 31, 2013: Airport Security arrested a Syrian national for attempting to smuggle 2765 Captagon pills in a double padded bag on his way to Kuwait. The smuggler who worked for a delivery service in Kuwait was given the bag by a Syrian national in Damascus and was supposed to await a call upon his arrival in Kuwait to deliver it to the intended recipient.
- November 15, 2013: Airport security agents arrested a Kuwaiti national for attempting to smuggle 136,000 Captagon pills packed in a box of coffee beans destined for Kuwait.
- November 20, 2013: Security forces arrested eight Syrian nationals and two Lebanese on charges of possessing 626 Captagon pills.
- December 2, 2013: Customs agents thwarted an attempt to smuggle 6850 grams of cocaine from Brazil into Lebanon and arrested the suspect, a Brazilian national who was supposed to swap the cocaine with a Lebanese accomplice for USD 10,000 dollars.
- December 18, 2013: Security agents seized 3.4 kilograms of Captagon from the Jordanian national S.S. who was intending to smuggle the pills into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for USD 3000.
I- Synthetic Drugs:
What is Heroin?
Heroin is a toxin synthesized from morphine, more precisely through the acetylation of morphine. It was first discovered in the late 19th century and is known for suppressing the central nervous system. The dry heroin base is a solid material colored between grey and brown, whereas pure heroin is a white powder that can be sniffed, smoked or injected after being dissolved and heated.
Physical Effects of Heroin
- Skin redness and heat.
- Constricted pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Eyeball protrusion
- Over-production of tears
- Runny nose
- Dry mouth
- Heavy limbs
Later, heroin addicts drift into a state of slumber and flaccidity coupled with slower breathing and heartbeats and lower blood pressure. Thinking becomes foggy.
Mental Effects of Heroin
Heroin is primarily used to evoke euphoria and ecstasy. The feelings of euphoria vary depending on the amount of the drug consumed. When heroin is injected, the feeling of euphoria reaches the brain in seconds; when smoked, the effect takes about 10 minutes.
Risks of Heroin Use
- If consumed on a daily basis, heroine can lead to addiction in a matter of a few weeks.
- Potential transmission of viruses such as HIV due to injections performed with unsafe needles.
- Heroin overdose leads to death.
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine was discovered in the mid 19th century. It is a stimulant extracted from the Erythroxylum coca plant native to South America. This medium sized Coca is cultivated in the Andes Mountains, located along the western coast of South America and extending through Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Columbia, Venezuela and the Amazon Basin. The drug, which was used in the past for the purposes of local anesthesia, is now considered one of the most expensive toxins.
Cocaine can be taken in many ways. Either it is crushed into fine white powder and arranged into thin lines (3 to 5 cm long) for snorting or injected intravenously, in which case it is called “coke”. When smoked, it becomes known as “crack”, a name inspired from the sound created when the sodium bicarbonate residues heat up.
Effects of Cocaine
The effects of cocaine appear almost immediately within a few minutes- sometimes less- of the drug being injected, and last between 30 minutes and two hours. The effects are not as quick to appear when the drug is snorted but they linger much longer. Among these effects we might mention:
- Euphoric feelings that leave the addict elated and feeling powerful.
- Boost in concentration.
- Anxiety and insomnia.
- Pupil dilation.
- Decline in appetite.
Larger doses of cocaine induce additional effects such as hallucination, muscle spasms and shivering.
Risks of Cocaine Use
Cocaine consumption takes its toll on several body functions.
- It accelerates heartbeats and increases blood pressure. It also tightens the blood vessels carrying oxygen to the heart, thus raising the possibility of a heart attack.
- Sudden death might occur if cocaine and alcohol are taken simultaneously.
- It narrows the brain’s blood vessels, thus raising the possibility of a stroke or an epileptic seizure.
- Snorting the drug harms nasal tissues and cavities and crack cocaine can damage the lungs.
- It narrows stomach and intestinal blood vessels, thus leading to gastric ulcers.
- High blood pressure and muscular degeneration impair the kidneys.
- It reduces sexual desire for both men and women.
- Potential transmission of viruses such as the HIV due to injections performed with unsafe needles.
- Weight-loss due to lack of appetite.
With the frequent use of cocaine, the brain begins to adapt and the individual becomes needful of ever higher doses of the drug to register the same level of pleasure experienced during initial use, until addiction finally takes hold. Cocaine addiction is both physical and mental and users often face grim symptoms when they try to quit. These symptoms include:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Anxiety and depression
- Lack of concentration
- Suicidal tendencies
3. Ecstasy Pills
Ecstasy is considered a relatively modern drug. It is commonly known among users and dealers by its shortened names of “E” or “X”. Ecstasy is usually manufactured by a number of clandestine unlicensed European factories and is often available as pressed tablets and capsules, some of them embossed with designs and logos, or as crushed powder that can be snorted or dissolved and then injected. The components of this drug were first discovered in 1920 but it was not until 1970 that it was manufactured and marketed. Ecstasy production is not a complicated process.
Effects of Ecstacy Pills
- Induced euphoria.
- Hyperactivity and agitation.
- Higher levels of alertness.
- Decline in exhaustion.
- Incredibly high spirits.
- Superpower illusions.
- Engagement in reckless and hostile behavior, regardless of the consequences.
Brain imaging reveals that ecstasy alters the brain chemistry by increasing the levels of Serotonin, which translates into extreme mood swings, hostile attitudes, fluctuating energy levels, sleep disorders and irregular pain sensitivity.
The effects of ecstasy on the brain are felt within one hour and the normal dose lasts about 4 to 6 hours. However, the come-down from ecstasy use may take several days- sometimes weeks- before it subsides. In some cases, it causes permanent physical and mental disorders.
The dehydration and hyperthermia associated with ecstasy are a main cause of death.
What is Marijuana?
When the concentration of THC, the principal active compound in the cannabis plant, is too low to obtain hashish, the leaves of the plant are dried, rolled and crushed to derive marijuana. This drug is usually smoked but it can be mixed with food or brewed as a tea. Marijuana effects are felt within minutes and may linger for 3 to 4 hours.
Physical Effects of Marijuana
The effects observed in marijuana users are numerous. We single out the following:
- Accelerated heartbeats.
- Higher blood pressure.
- Red eyes.
- Slurred speech.
- Higher respiratory rates.
- Xerostomia (dry mouth).
- Slower reaction time.
- Increased appetite.
Mental Effects of Marijuana
- Losing all notions of time.
- Short-term memory loss.
The effects last usually for a few hours, but some of them may linger until the following day.
Risks of Marijuana Use
However mild it seems when compared to other drugs, the excessive use of marijuana can have a number of serious implications:
- Heavy use of marijuana reduces men’s testosterone levels, thus lowering sperm production and harming fertility.
- Airway inflammation and sinusitis.
- Contrary to the popular belief, withdrawal from marijuana may lead to depression, anxiety, loss of appetite and aggressive tendencies.
- Amotivational syndrome whereby the person exhibits apathy towards everything losing the drive to work, learn, eat or even groom.
- Using marijuana during pregnancy increases the risk of spontaneous abortions and may affect the baby’s growth and health.
What is LSD?
LSD, an abbreviation of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, is a colorless and odorless drug most notorious for inducing hallucinations. It may be delivered in a liquid form through injections, in tablet form, or orally usually on a blotting paper. Less commonly, it is administered as eye drops.
A dose of no more than 40 micrograms of LSD is sufficient to trigger visual and auditory hallucinations. The primary effect of the drug is then to stimulate changes in the user’s mental state, perception, vision and sensation. Drug traffickers have taken advantage of the efficacy of small doses, lacing stickers and postage stamps with the hallucinogen, so that users can lick or them.
LSD effects are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. They appear within 30 minutes and may last for 12 hours. They include:
- Hallucinations, whereby the user perceives imaginary images and sounds as real.
- Sharpened senses.
- Retrieval of old memories.
- Accelerated heart rate and higher blood pressure.
- Xerostomia (dry mouth).
- Insomnia and irregular sleep patterns.
- Excessive sweating.
- Loss of appetite.
- Dilation of the pupils.
- Loss of notions of time.
Risks of LSD Use
Although LSD is non-addictive, it is known to cause chronic brain damage, even if only used once. LSD exposes the brain to:
- Psychosis, a mental state which includes unreal sensory perceptions, delusional beliefs and thought disorders.
- Flashbacks where the user relives the symptoms he experienced upon initial use of the hallucinogen. Flashbacks may occur for days and sometimes years.
Morphine is the primary active chemical component in opium. It was first discovered in the early nineteenth century but it wasn’t until 1817 that the drug was marketed and given its present name by a German scientist. This analgesic is named after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus.
The process of extracting crude morphine base from opium involves dissolving opium in boiling water then adding lime (calcium oxide) and ammonium chloride before filtering the solution. It may also be extracted directly from the poppy straw and from the dried poppy capsules still holding opium. Crude morphine base is a coffee-colored powder.
According to scientists, morphine is among the drugs that may become habit-forming, causing mental and physical dependence. Acute withdrawal symptoms are likely to appear in case of abstinence, which requires careful treatment and medical supervision.
It is agreed among scientists that there are many legitimate uses of morphine in the medical and pain management fields. Yet, this drug remains a perilous substance that can cause quick and severe addiction, which is why strict medical measures have been taken to limit its use and marketing. Currently, morphine is only recommended in the event of advanced cases of cancer, severe heart attacks, major burns or traumas. It is usually prescribed in small doses for a short period of time.
Direct and Short-lived Effects of Morphine
- Euphoria, self-contentment, lack of physical pain.
- Calm, indolence and the urge to sleep.
- Abundant nasal discharge and mouth dryness.
- Itching all over the body.
Complications and Addiction Symptoms
- Nausea, vomiting and spasms.
- Neuronal agitation, insomnia and anxiety.
- Chronic diarrhea.
- High blood pressure.
- Fluctuating blood sugar levels.
- Urinary disorders and sexual weakness.
- Deterioration of the socioeconomic status and decline in productivity.
Users who abstain from morphine suffer from a slew of symptoms that last between 24 and 48 hours. These symptoms include anxiety, excessive sweating and an overriding craving for the drug. Addicts also report severe pains in bones and muscles and many of them resort to taking lethal doses that exceed 100 milligrams in the first 6 to 12 hours after withdrawal.
II- Natural Drugs:
1. Catha edulis (Khat)
Khat is an ever-green perrenial shrub that adapts to different soil conditions and resists diseases and climate variability. Its young leaves are a crimson-green, later turning to yellowish green. Khat grows wild in the humid mountainous regions of East and South Africa, in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula and in Kenya and Eretria. It is cultivated in Yemen and Ethiopia. Khat is not subject to international control although two of its psychoactive ingredients, Cathinone and Cathine, are scheduled substances under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971.
Khat leaves are chewed slowly and intermittently into a ball, which is kept for a while in the cheek to release the active components in the juice, which is then swallowed with saliva. Chewers drink cold water during their chewing sessions, which usually occur in groups. Chewers consume khat indoors while holding on to each other so close to fight the sensation of cold caused by the plant.
Khat effects on the body
Ulcers develop in the mouth of khat addicts, at the base of their gums and tongues, which can cause an offensive breath odor and flaccidity in the gingival tissues as well as teeth problems. Indigestion, loss of appetite, constipation and malnutrition are all observed in Khat addicts, which explains the weakness and debility of most of them. The chemicals present in Khat lead to tachycardia and tighten blood vessels which may result in higher blood pressure in hypertension patients and in hypertension in healthy people.
The fake feelings of well-being, mental alertness and excitement induced by khat intake are replaced a few hours later with mental inactivity, depression and insomnia. It has been scientifically proven that khat addiction increases blood glucose and exposes users to the risk of diabetes.
Opium is a drug extracted from the opium poppy and processed to produce heroin. According to UN sources, Afghanistan is currently the main producer of opium. Opium has several street names and it is extracted from the seed capsules of the opium poppies by making shallow incisions around the center of the pod in the early morning. A milky liquid will form droplets around the incision. It will coagulate slowly from contact with the air, thickening and turning brown at the same time. Opium is an anesthetic substance used to deaden the pain, particularly during surgeries or while administering cancer treatment. It contains 25 different substances including, morphine, narcotine, papverine, codeine, etc.
Direct and Short-lived Effects of Opium
- Euphoria and delusional feelings of comfort.
- Relief of pain and anxiety and loss of tactile sensation.
- Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
- Fast heart rate that soon changes into slow heart rate with low blood pressure.
- Narrow pupils and conjunctivitis.
Complications and Addiction Symptoms
- Mental slowness and hesitation in decision making.
- Respiratory depression, which may lead to death.
- Lack of immunity and higher risk of developing pulmonary tuberculosis.
- Occasional rash and skin itching.