The Issue of Drug and Alcohol Smuggling in Saudi Arabia

In a country where the consumption of drugs and alcohol is illegal and results in long jail time, and where the death penalty is given to those smuggling in drugs and alcohol, smuggling is prominent and citizens, as well as visitors, are executed. But because there is very little alcohol and drugs available, those who want it in Saudi Arabia are willing to pay a high price for it, creating a market for alcohol and drug smuggling.

Any consumption and usage of alcohol or drugs is considered illegal in Saudi Arabia, meaning that no one is allowed to even possess or buy them, except for a few exceptions when it comes to foreigners, if they previously went through a process to be allowed to consume alcohol in the country. If anyone is found importing, manufacturing, owning, or consuming any sorts of alcohol or drugs, they can expect the following penalties: jail sentences, fines, floggings, deportation, a ban from the country, or the death penalty. Meanwhile, the penalty for drug and alcohol smuggling is the death penalty. There are, however, compounds where foreigners live and consume alcohol, because some very few people are allowed to bring in alcohol, and Saudi Arabians who make alcohol at home, by buying products in stores and manufacturing it, in order to consume it. For those who do not have foreign connections, and therefore do not have any of those “compounds” to go to, and do not know how to, or want to, manufacture alcohol at home, there is always the option to smuggle alcohol through the border or to buy it from those who do the trafficking. When it comes to illegal drugs, no foreigners are allowed to bring them in, and it is almost impossible for one person to make them at home, so there is a large market for drug trafficking across borders.

One of the largest borders that is used for alcohol and drug smuggling is the Saudi-Yemen frontier. Because the two countries are not on great terms, they have a hard time coming up with a solution for the problem since they are wary of each other; but that border is not the only way that drugs are coming in. Although drugs come in through that particular frontier on a regular basis, drugs and alcohol are also smuggled in through other borders and by plane. In August 2017, drugs were intercepted through multiple borders and in June 2017, a woman was arrested while trying to smuggle Cocaine into Saudi Arabia by plane. Because of the recurring problems of trafficking, there has been an increase in guards and in checkpoints in order to catch those trying to smuggle drugs and alcohol into the country by hiding the items in cars, in one’s body, in one’s clothing, or in one’s personal belongings.

Because of religion and strict laws, most Saudi Arabians abstain from involving themselves with drugs and alcohol. However, there are a select few who risk harsh punishment in order to consume drugs or alcohol, and there are even fewer who risk their lives to smuggle illegal items across the border into the country