Drug Bust Fills Entire Football Field With 15 Tons of Hashish

Lebanon's Internal Security Forces (ISF) recently made the "biggest" drug bust in the country's history, confiscating 15 tons of hashish.

Although the bust took place on Friday, the security forces made an official announcement this week in a press conference and a post on Twitter.

عقد اللواء عثمان مؤتمر صحافي حول تفاصيل عملية قامت بها شعبة المعلومات أسفرت عن توقيف عصابة لتهريب المخدرات الى خارج لبنان وضبط حوالي 15 طن من حشيشة الكيف، إضافة الى قيامها بتفكيك شبكة دولية محترفة لتهريب الكوكايين وتوقيف 3 مطلوبين بموجب العديد من المذكرات العدلية في بريتال pic.twitter.com/cjJmtDGzwH

— قوى الامن الداخلي (@LebISF) June 4, 2018

"The drugs were set to leave Lebanon and go to Libya and then to Egypt, but we don't know what the final destination was yet," Director General of the ISF Imad Osman said, according to Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star. ISF officers also said it was the largest drug bust ever made in the country.

Located in a warehouse, the hashish was hidden in paint buckets and the quantity was large enough to fill an entire football field, as pictures shared on social media revealed. The ISF also announced that it managed to dismantle an international cocaine smuggling network and arrest three wanted individuals. One of these suspects is reportedly a religious leader in the Mediterranean country.

كمية الحشيشة المصادرة من مخزن في الاوزاعي قبل يومين، تغطي ارضية ملعب كرة قدم تابع لفرع المعلومات في قوى الامن الداخلي (الابيض حشيش، والبني حشيش ايضا. الاخضر مش حشيش) pic.twitter.com/7r4QNZTO46

— Hasan illaik (@Hasanillaik) June 3, 2018

While hashish remains illegal in Lebanon, many of those who farm the drug do so openly and are heavily armed. A prominent hash farmer and dealer, Ali Nasri Shamas, spoke openly to the BBC about his enterprise in March 2017, showing off his fields and weapons. However, just a few weeks after the interview aired, security forces raided his home, confiscating drugs and weapons.

Walid Jumblatt—a prominent politician who leads Lebanon's Progressive Socialist Party—had repeatedly called for the country to legalize the drug in 2014. Regardless of the risks of growing cannabis, many farmers and workers in the country are dependants on the crop's production.

According to a 2016 report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the source of cannabis resin during the period 2009-2014 suggests that "the world's largest producer of cannabis resin continues to be Morocco, followed by Afghanistan and, to a lesser extent, Lebanon, India and Pakistan." The report continued, "In the Near East, cannabis resin produced in Lebanon is used to supply other markets in the subregion."

Some economists have even suggested growing cannabis could boost Lebanon's economy, while also providing jobs to the 1.5 million Syrian refugees residing in the country. "There could be both work opportunities and a substantial increase in the national income if we legalize cannabis," an expert told the BBC in 2016.