Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces’ General Directorate said Thursday that it had foiled an attempt to smuggle subsidized diesel from Lebanon to Syria through the Masnaa border crossing.
In a statement, the ISF said that on January 14th, its patrols were able to clamp down on four trucks in the town of Majdal Anjar, in the Bekaa Valley, seize them, and arrest their drivers, who are all of a Syrian nationality.
It said that upon inspecting the aforementioned trucks, the ISF found that each of them had an additional tank, other than the truck’s original tank, filled with smuggled diesel.
According to the Security Forces, the total quantity of seized diesel fuel is approximately 4,300 liters.
“When interrogating the drivers, they confessed to have been planning to smuggle diesel into Syrian territories,” it said, adding that all drivers were arrested and the trucks and the amount of smuggled diesel have been seized, based on the request of the competent judiciary.
The seized amount of diesel is small compared to the quantity that politicians claim is smuggled from Lebanon through illegal border crossings. However, the operation uncovers that smugglers have recently used sophisticated means to hide the fuel in their trucks.
Last year, a report broadcast by a local television channel said Lebanon is losing millions of dollars yearly due to the smuggling of goods to Syria through illegal border crossings.
It said the amount of smuggled fuel to Syria is estimated at $400 million per year.
The Lebanese Central Bank (BDL) subsidizes diesel amid reports saying the country’s foreign currency reserves could be drying up.
BDL supplies dollars for the import of gasoline, diesel, and butane at the pegged exchange rate of LL1,507.5, while the black market rate is above LL8,000.