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Drug Trade in Lebanon

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History of the Drug Trade Lebanon[edit]

The Drug Trade in the Ancient World[edit]

Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East during the 14th century BC

Drug use in Lebanon is dated as far back as the Bronze Age.[1] The drug trade in the Middle East is traced as early as 1650-1350 BC, with opium poppy's being traded in the eastern Mediterranean.[2][3]

Bronze Age[edit]

During the Bronze Age, the Opium trade existed in the Levant.[4] Anthropologists have found traces of opium in Mycean ceramic vases.[5]

Types of Drugs in Lebanon[edit]

Hashish Growth in Lebanon[edit]

The production of hashish was prohibited in Lebanon in 1926, during the era of the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon.[6][7] However, the cannabis industry blossomed during the chaos of the 15-year Lebanese civil war.[8]

Cocaine Production in Lebanon[edit]

Opium Production in Lebanon[edit]

The production of Opium in Lebanon is mainly in the Beqaa Valley[9].

Captagon Production in Lebanon[edit]

127 bags of Captagon seized from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria

Captagon is an amphetamine that, as of 2017, is the most popular recreational drug in the Arabian peninsula.[10] In Lebanon, the Captagon industry is estimated to be worth 1 billion USD.[11] Captagon trade is mainly along the Syrian border as drug traffickers have taken advantage of the Syrian Civil War.[12]

Lebanese Civil War[edit]

Drug Usage during the War[edit]

Before the war, until 1975, although it produced a large number of drugs including Hashish, Heroin, and Cocaine, Lebanon was one of the few countries in the Middle East with a low rate of usage. Drug abuse amongst militias and citizens increased once the war started. Disorders linked to drug abuse were reported at a higher rate than post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorders during the war.[13]

During the war, a number of studies were conducted on the impact of drug abuse within Lebanon. The war had especially affected men in their encounter with drugs (8:2 ratio of men to women). Heroin was the most widely used drug within Lebanon during the war, making up 80% of drug consumption. Drug use was most concentrated in the capital city of Beirut.[14]

Drug use in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War has had a significant economic, psychological, and cultural impact on the Lebanese people.[15]

Drug Cultivation in the Beqaa Valley[edit]

Beqaa valley, Lebanon

Drugs have been cultivated in the Beqaa Valley since the days of the Roman Empire, making drug cultivation a longstanding part of traditional culture within the Beqaa Valley. Cannabis Cultivation in the Beqqa rose during the Lebanese Civil War, as cultivators and militias developed a positive relationship. Militias relied on Hashish growers to *information needed*. Because of the rise in cannabis cultivation during the Lebanese Civil War, the Hashish and Opium trade was a major source of income in the Beqaa valley.[16] This grew into a multibillion-dollar industry fueling the agricultural sector as well as political factions and organized crime.[17]

The worldwide crackdown on narcotics led by the United States led to a decline of the Lebanese drug trade of the Beqaa Valley in the early 1990s. The Syrian Army in Lebanon, responding to pressure from the United States Department of State, actively destroyed Hashish and Opium fields, spraying them with poison.[16] Since the mid-1990s, the culture and production of drugs in the Beqaa valley has been in steady decline, by 2002 an estimated 2,500 hectares of cannabis were limited to the extreme north of the valley, where government presence remains minimal. Every year since 2001 the Lebanese army plows cannabis fields in an effort to destroy the crops before harvest, it is estimated that that action eliminates no more than 30% of overall crops. Although important during the civil war, opium cultivation has become marginal, dropping from an estimated 30 metric tonnes per year in 1983 to negligible amounts in 2004.[18][19][20]


Countries where Hezbollah operates or has financing connections.

Since the onset of the Lebanese Civil War, Hezbollah, which was founded in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon[21], has been involved in the drug trade.[16] Hezbollah is known to be involved in the Cocaine trade[22], the Captagon trade[23], and the Hashish trade.[16] Hezbollah uses the drug trade as well as other "criminal enterprises" to fund its military excursions in Lebanon.[24] Hezbollah also uses its illicit profits to fund the other terrorist organisations like the Taliban[25][26], while some of their funds go to education and health assistance for the poor.[27]

In response to allegations, Hezbollah has always maintained that their organization is not involved in drug trafficking. In a statement in 2011, the party said "The United States' allegations that Hezbollah is funding its activities illegitimately is merely another attempt to tarnish the image of the resistance in Lebanon ... after the failure and exposure of U.S. intelligence operations in our country".[28] In a 2012 speech, Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said "Time and again they speak about the drug networks in Latin America and Europe and they say Hezbollah is financing these activities. This is forbidden for us."[29] Al-Akhbar, a Hezbollah mouthpiece newspaper argued that there is no evidence supporting the claim of Hezbollah's drug trafficking because no court have been provided evidence for that claim [30]

As of 2020, Hezbollah continues to participate in the drug trade.[31]

Post War Occupation of Syria and Israel[edit]

Cedar Revolution[edit]

Spillover of the Syrian Civil War[edit]

Cause of the 2020 Central Bank meltdown[edit]

Connection to the Beirut port explosion[edit]

Mass Exodus from Lebanon due to the Drug Trade[edit]


  1. Stein, Diana. "Psychedelics and the Ancient Near East". American Schools of Oriental Research. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  2. "Traces of opiates found in ancient Cypriot vessel". University of York. 3 October 2018. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  3. Cockburn, Harry (3 October 2018). "Bronze Age saw flourishing drug trade, opium discovered in ancient vase reveals". Independent. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  4. Robert S., Merrilees (1962). "Opium Trade in the Bronze Age Levant". Antiquity. 26 (144): 2. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00036814. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  5. "Ancient Drug Trade Unearthed". CBS News. 7 August 2002. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  6. Robert Connell Clarke (1998). Hashish!. Red Eye Press. ISBN 978-0-929349-05-3. Search this book on
  7. France. Ministère des affaires étrangères (1925). ... Rapport sur la situation de la Syrie et du Liban ... Imprimerie nationale. p. 73. Par arrêté du Haut-Commissaire en date du 8 octobre 1925, la culture du haschich, qui était particulièrement intense dans la Békaa (Grand Liban), a été interdite à compter du ier janvier 1926. Search this book on
  8. "Illicit cannabis farming thrives in Lebanon". BBC. 25 October 2016.
  9. Abu-Nasr, Donna (5 July 1990). "Opium Trade Flourishes in Bekaa Valley". Associated Press. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  10. "A new drug of choice in the Gulf". The Economist. 18 July 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  11. "Captured by Captagon? Lebanon's evolving illicit drug economy" (PDF). Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime: 1. May 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  12. "The nexus of conflict and illicit drug trafficking Syria and the wider region" (PDF). The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime: 17. November 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  13. Haddad, Ramzi; Kerbage, Hala (1985). "Lebanon Drug Situation and Policy" (PDF). The Politics of Revolving Doors. Council of Europe. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  14. Baddoura, C (December 1992). "Drug addiction in Lebanon". Service à l'hôpital de la Croix, Jal-el-Dib, Liban. 176 (9): 1505–14, discussion 1514-5. PMID 1303299. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  15. Sune, Haugbolle (25 October 2011). "The historiography and the memory of the Lebanese civil war". Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence. Science Po. ISSN 1961-9898. OCLC 892649158. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Marshall, Jonathan (16 May 2012). The Lebanese Connection Corruption, Civil War, and the International Drug Traffic. Stanford University Press. p. 15-150. ISBN 9780804782562. Retrieved 18 January 2021. Search this book on
  17. Cwerman, Ralph (18 November 1990). "LEBANON'S VALLEY OF DRUGS". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  18. United Press International, Feb 26 2002 'Lebanon army destroys drugs'
  19. Perry, Tom (25 September 2007). "Lebanese find troubles fertile ground for cannabis". Reuters. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  20. Gustafsson, Jenny (October 2013). "Villages in the Bekaa valley cling to cannabis cultivation as their only means of survival". The Caravan. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  21. "Who are Hezbollah?". BBC News. 21 May 2008. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  22. Lev, David (9 January 2010). "Hizbullah Sells Drugs in Europe". Israel National News. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  23. Topalian, Nohad (4 July 2019). "Hizbullah involved in Captagon manufacture, smuggling". Al-Mashareq. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  24. Levitt, Matthew (25 May 2005), Hezbollah: Financing Terror Through Criminal Enterprise (PDF), Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs United States Senate, p. 8, archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-05-25, retrieved 19 January 2021
  25. Hernández, Joel (August 2013). "Terrorism, Drug Trafficking, and the Globalization of Supply". Perspectives on Terrorism. 7 (4): 42. JSTOR 26296983. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  26. Davis, Ellen; Rivera, Edeli; Erwin, Jessie (14 February 2011). "MANHATTAN U.S. ATTORNEY CHARGES SEVEN DEFENDANTS WITH CONSPIRING TO AID THE TALIBAN" (PDF): 2. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  27. Deeb, Lara (31 July 2006). "Hizballah: A Primer". Middle East Research and Information Project. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  28. "Hezbollah denies drugs and money laundering claims". Al Arabiya. 22 December 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  29. "Nasrallah calls for unconditional dialogue in Syria". Al Ahkbar. 7 February 2012. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2014. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  31. Warrick, Joby; Mekhennet, Souad (4 August 2020). "Hezbollah operatives seen behind spike in drug trafficking, analysts say". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 January 2021.

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