1. Saudi Arabia $10.1 Billion

  2. Black Market Crime in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Security Threats

Data and information about security threats from Saudi Arabia’s black market. Intelligence and security information collected from government agencies, news articles and other public data sources.

According to company officials, Japanese motor company Nissan losses about $60 Million each year to counterfeit auto parts in the United Arab Emirates. These fake car parts include brake pads, radiators, windscreens and other vehicle parts.

In the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Baharain, Kuwait, Omanm, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the counterfeit auto parts market is estimated to be worth $2 Billion.

(See all information on fake auto parts.)

Source:  Tom Arnold, “Smuggling in the UAE: Counterfeit goods seeping into ports daily,” The National, May 17, 2014.

Between 2011 to 2013, the criminal justice court system in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia received 53 money laundering cases that targeted 22 Saudi nationals and 31 foreign workers.

The cases involved anonymous bank transfers, illegal collection of money, fraud, profiting from public office, and other methods of money laundering.

According to financial security experts in the country, Jeddah had the most money laundering cases in Saudi Arabia.

Source: “Jeddah has highest number of money laundering cases,” Arab News, May 8, 2014.

According to the director of the Saudi Center for Organ Transplants, over 400 people from Saudi Arabia are believed to have bought organs from organ trafficking markets between 2012 and 2013.

There were 190 incidents of organs bought by Saudis in 2012, and 220 cases of organs being bough from black markets in China, Egypt and Pakistan, according to health officials.

Out of the total number of buyers, roughly 40 percent needed to get additional medical treatment due to side effects from the illegal organ transplant.

(Organ trafficking prices on the black market.)

Source:  “Over 400 needy Saudi patients turn to organs black market in Asia,” Saudi Gazette, April 21, 2014.


Customs Officials in Saudi Arabia reported that is seized around 40 million counterfeit goods within Saudi Arabia in 2013. In addition to the number of fake goods seized, security services also stopped and prevented over 124 million counterfeits from entering the country in 2013.

One of the main fake and substandard product that was seized by the authorities were 30,000 air conditioners that were counterfeited and not made to government standards.

(More counterfeit goods statistics here.)

Source: Hazem Al-Shraqawi, “Fake items decline 45%,” Arab News, January 29, 2014.

The Ministry of the Interior in Saudi Arabia received a total of 3,919 suspicious financial transaction reports about possible money laundering cases between 2012 and 2013. Financial authorities also received 419 notifications about possible terrorism financing activities.

The number of institutions reporting suspicious transactions increased by 120 percent from the amount of reports between 2008 and 2012.

Out of the total suspicious reports, 223 notifications about money laundering and 88 regarding terrorism financing were further investigated by security services.

Source:  “Money laundering cases shoot up by 120%, says report,” Arab News, January 27, 2014.

According to media reports, the price to buy a tablet of Captagon in Syria is between $5 to $20.

The market for Captagon in the Middle East has increased in recent years as the war in Syria has continued. Criminal justice officials believe that Syria produced the most Captagon tablets in 2013, surpassing Lebanon as the main producer of the amphetamine tablet in the Middle East.  Drug traders estimate that up to 90 percent of the production in Lebanon has decreased as the production moved into Syria.

(Methamphetamine facts about users and abuse.)

However, the trafficking of Captagon pills is still high in Lebanon. Security forces seized over 12.3 million pills in 2013, with most of the large busts taking place in areas near the border of Syria.

In May 2013, Turkish security seized 7 million Captagon pills that were on its way to Saudi Arabia, with Turkish security agencies stating that the pills were made in Syria.

In December 2013, police in Dubai seized a record 4.6 million Captagon pills.

Source:  Stephen Kalin, “Insight: War turns Syria into major amphetamines producer, consumer,” Reuters, January 12, 2013.

The cost of corruption in Saudi Arabia is estimated to cost the Kingdom up to $14.6 Billion (55 Billion Saudi Riyal) a year. In an example of the type of graft occurring in Saudi Arabia, one employee of the Education Department reportedly embezzled nearly $40 Million (150 Million Riyal) in government funds.

Across the entire Arab region, the effects of corruption is estimated to cost states $350 Billion.

Source:  “Corruption costs state SR55 billion a year,” Saudi Gazette, January 2, 2014.

According to the 2013 World Drug Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Saudi Arabia accounted for 30 percent of amphetamine seized by government security agencies during the year. The country has 1 percent of the world’s population.

The majority of the amphetamine that is taken in the county is in Captagon tablets. The tablets are the trade name for fenethyline, and were previously used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder before it was banned.

(Methamphetamine facts and statistics.)

In 2012, criminal justice programs in Saudi Arabia reported seizing nearly 70 million tablets within the country. Security experts believe that the amount seized represents 10 percent of the total number of tablets trafficked within the Kingdom.

It was previously reported that one Captagon tablet sells for $20 in Saudi Arabia. The pill is produced for pennies in factories in Lebanon.

(Price of meth around the world.)

Source:  Aryn Baker, “Conservative Saudi Arabia Is Becoming a Hotbed for Amphetamines,” Time, October 29, 2013.

Various criminal justice programs across the Middle East have seen a rise in the amphetamine market in recent years. The trade name of the drug is called Captagon, which was originally created to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The drug was banned from most countries back in 1986, yet cheaper versions containing amphetamine are easily produced and trafficked.

The pills costs pennies to manufacture in factories located in Lebanon, and can be sold for up to $20 in Saudi Arabia. Each year, Saudi security agencies seized nearly 55 million Captagon pills each year on average, with security officials estimated that the seized amount only represents 10 percent of all pills being trafficked into the country. Three-quarters of all drug treatment patients in Saudi Arabia are addicted to methamphetamine and Captagon.

(Additional facts about crystal meth abuse.)

In a single month in 2013, government security agencies in Lebanon confiscated over $200 Million worth of Captagon pills in the country.

In December 2012, government forces in Syria seized a factory in the city of Homs that was storing 18,000 Captagon pills. Intelligence officials believe that proceeds from the illegal drug trade is helping to fund both anti-Asaad rebels as well as Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militia who is fighting on behalf of President Assad.

(More: How much does meth cost?)

Source:  Aryn Baker, “Syria’s Breaking Bad: Are Amphetamines Funding the War?,” Time, October 28, 2013.

Security officials estimate that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has extorted up to $20 Million between 2010 to 2012 from kidnapping and ransom activities. Intelligence agencies in the United States and the United Kingdom believe that kidnapping for ransom is the largest source of revenue for the AQAP.

The ransom money paid to the  group is used to finance its operations in Yemen, where it is primarily active along with Saudi Arabia. Intelligence officials state that the ransom money allows the group to pay fighters and families of those who died. The group also participates in providing social services and infrastructure projects in Yemen.

AQAP turned to kidnapping for ransom after Western governments shut down its revenue stream by cracking down on money-transferring services from wealthy supporters.

AQAP is not the only Al Qaeda affiliate who is actively involved in kidnapping. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which operates in Mali and Northern Africa, also funds its activities through ransom payments. The average ransom payout to the AQIM was $5.4 Million in 2011.

Source:  Ken Dilanian, “Al Qaeda group is operating on ransom money from the West,” Los Angeles Times, October 21, 2013.