A Saudi major who claims to have worked for the Interior Ministry has been detained after alleging that officials were running drug-smuggling operations under cover of the Muslim pilgrimage.

Major Turki bin Hamza al-Rashidi, who said he worked in the Narcotics Control Division, claimed that a network of powerful regime insiders had made "billions" from running drugs into Saudi Arabia in a variety of ways.

In a series of YouTube videos, Rashidi alleged that one method was the "twin buses game". This involves a "clean bus" full of pilgrims heading for Mecca to perform the Hajj being certified by customs, before the same documentation is later used to allow a "dirty bus" laden with drugs to enter the kingdom.

To evade detection, all the buses are identical in make and model, down to the seat fabric. The drivers are said to use counterfeit passports and false names.


Rashidi said the scam had been running for decades, with hundreds of buses making thousands of trips. He alleged he was later sacked and subjected to trumped-up charges.

In the videos, he repeatedly appeals to King Salman to protect him, but on May 9 Rashidi posted an audio message saying he was being arrested. Another amateur video showed him apparently being bundled into a car.

The videos and documents posted online have not been independently verified. The Saudi Embassy in London declined to comment.

Last October, Prince Abdel Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdulaziz, a member of the royal family, and four other Saudis were arrested in Lebanon with two tonnes of captagon capsules and cocaine.

The penalty for drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia is death.