The intelligence directorate in the Lebanese army arrested on Saturday one of the most wanted suspects by the country’s judiciary and international Interpol.
Maher Tleis was wanted on hundreds of arrest warrants linked to arms and drug dealing and car theft.
The military succeeded in arresting him during a raid on the eastern Bekaa town of Brital. No one was injured in the operation that took place at dawn in the al-Naqqar neighborhood, which is one of the most dangerous areas in the city because it harbors Lebanon’s most wanted fugitives.
Tleis, 47, was unable to resist the military raid and was detained without a single gunshot being fired in Brital.
The Army Command said in a statement that Tleis was wanted on charges of forming a car theft gang, kidnapping, fraud, counterfeiting currency, assaulting the army and dealing in the arms and drug trade.
Investigations have immediately gotten underway with him, it added.
A security source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the army carried out its operation to arrest Tleis at dawn on Saturday after it had surrounded his house in the Naqqar neighborhood.
He represents a “significant catch” for the authorities in their crackdown on gangs that are active in the Bekaa region. The campaign was launched in 2014 and Tleis is so far one of the most prominent detainees.
Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Tleis was involved in smuggling and selling weapons to terrorist groups that were active in the eastern mountain range that separates Lebanon from Syria. The groups were expelled from the region in 2017.
Tleis has been wanted by Lebanese authorities since 2002. He has managed to evade arrest by authorities on several occasions.
Sources said that he had escaped raids more than ten times.
Brital harbors suspects wanted for theft, weapons and drug smuggling and other crimes. The sources said that some 30 fugitives are currently in the town, while 150 people who hail from there have been arrested by the authorities.