The Drug Lord BBC Pop Up - Lebanon

The Drug Lord

Benjamin Zand takes the BBC's mobile bureau to Lebanon. In the first of a two-part series, he explores Lebanon's cannabis trade.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to The Drug Lord. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



BBC Pop Up is the BBC's mobile bureau.


We travel to different cities for a month at a time


Lebanon is a very small country at the edge of


Historically, these borders have meant that it's


become a centre of many Middle Eastern conflicts, despite its small


For centuries, it's acted as a refuge for


We have Christians, Sunni Muslims, Shia


It has taken in more Syrian refugees than any other country in


the world except Turkey, with one in five people in Lebanon being a


For two years, the country was left without a president, but


that ended in October last year, when we elected this guy.


So we're currently doing the BBC Pop-up story booth.


Basically, we set up a camera in random


locations about town, and we


ask people what stories they want to tell.


The best thing about Lebanon is probably, at my age, is


What I really love about it is its diversity.


Where ever you go, you will find people from different groups and


religions. The majority is Christian and religion, they are probably


about 100 Jewish people. It is very friendly. You come down to a streak


that there is, you will see Christians and Muslims, having a


great time together. You can either speak English or French or both.


Actually, a lot of food came from Lebanon. Commerce, falafel, tabulate


salad. What is the meat on mystic cold? Leben on is a mix of hostility


and positivity, see you have angry people and positive people trying to


do things. What would a good story be? Give me a good story. It would


be interesting to highlight the fact that Beirut was destroyed and


rebuilt seven times. We're not having a frank conversation among


ourselves, we're talking about women's issues, income inequality,


gay rights. I suggest you go to the Valley controlled by the Shia


Muslims. They are trying to find out where the supply of hashes coming


from. They tried to grow it. I was told that is a lot of hash each. I


guess it does. I've never tried it. I'm not looking to get into


something like that, but I know a lot of people do. It looks that


there's only one story we can do then, hashish. Cannabis has been in


Lebanon for centuries, but I quickly found most people were not keen to


talk about it openly and camera. Punishment is just smoking can be


harsh, so people don't want to admit they do it. Eventually, I found


someone who had written extensively about hashish in Lebanon and he


agreed to talk, as long as we didn't show his face. Tell me what I need


to know about hashish in Lebanon. It's so common now across all


classes and regions. What is the low? If it's not your first offence,


you could get a few months or years. For dealers it is more. Some people


charge for using, because they're one of the few people who don't


smoke. But nobody talks about it, because it is stigmatised. A person


who suffers from that will be ostracised. Who is making money from


it? Everyone is making money from it. The growers, the dealers, of


course and sadly, the people entrusted in fighting drugs are


making a good income out of it. The only people really paying the price


of young people. Where'd you find the dealers in the country?


I wanted to speak to one of these growers to find out how they could


justify a tree that is illegal and violent. During the Civil War,


cannabis culture flourished here and I heard the Syrian war was causing


the same problem. This is pretty much the most dangerous and lawless


part of the country, very to Syria and it has seen Isis infiltration,


kidnappings, bombings, not nice things. But it is famous for


something very different and that's for having the mass of Lebanon


hashish farms. We're going to speak to one of the drug lords. We're


actually near Syria. Yes, Syria is right this way. If infiltration


happens, it can happen three here, so there are a lot of checkpoints


here. Most of the suicide bombings that happen in Beirut, everybody


came through that way. We're currently waiting for the hashish


farmer. He's asked us to come here, because he doesn't want us to come


to his house, because he doesn't know who we are. It's pretty


dangerous over there. Nice to meet you. Thank you for having us.


Nice to have the knowledge that there is a couple of grenades in the


back of the car. There you go. He's just handed me, is that an AK-47?


He's passing it around. Does everyone know who you are? Are you


the kingpin here? If we tell someone we're with you, we're safe? This is


so you can tell someone is a drug so you can tell someone is a drug


kingpin, his ice is about ten times bigger than anyone else in the area.


If we leaked this guy off, it's game over. Do you have kids? That's a lot


of lobbying going on. You've got a golden pistol. Is it loaded right


now? He's just pulled out a machine gun and a bazooka. Is that a


bazooka? What do you use the bazooka for? You've use this against Isis?


Ali told us that recently, the so-called Islamic State infiltrated


the nearby village. He said as soon as he heard about it, he jumped on a


truck and picked up weapons with some of the other hashish farmers,


and according to him, they fought them off. Because they are


distracted with Isis, they are distracted with the threat of the


threat of Syria. Have you actually fired this?


Is this where the magic happens? Why did you choose black and red?


You've got good taste. It seems that everybody is your enemy, because


Hezbollah don't want you to do this, the government don't want you to,


Isis. Who is on your side? What do you want your legacy to be?


Do you want to be really famous? Do you want everyone to know who you


are you did? He is giving me a tour. Here we go.


While. Mountains of hashish. Hashish is illegal in Lebanon. How


can you be so open about it? Have you had to actually fight


against the government to protect crops?


There's just hashish everywhere, were soaked in it. How much do you


make? Who is buying this hashish? How did you get hashish from here to


Europe? It's difficult to very tight Ali's claims about the government,


but Lebanon is thought to have big problems with corruption. You remind


me a bit of someone like Pablo Escobar. You happy to appear on


camera. Have you actually been convicted by


the government of anything in court? How does that feel, to be sentenced


to death. You have a hashish farm, you have killed a lot of people. Do


you not deserve to go to jail? If you run this country, would you


legalise hashish? You seem like a difficult man to pin down, because


on the one hand, ECU for this to try and make money for the people in the


area, but then you also kill people and you are dealing in an illegal


trade. Do you think you could have done it another way that wasn't


illegal? Do you think I'll get into trouble


with the police because I have hashish leaves on my shoes and on my


clogs? That was a weird day. Ali was either


really friendly uncle who foot so happens to be a killer and a drug


dealer. And he was massively open about it. Back to Beirut now. I'm a


bit concerned, because we've all got hashish all over us and if they find


you, you get in serious trouble and get put in jail. Were going to try


dust ourselves off. There are checkpoints all the way back. Highly


is quoted as out of his village, as he said it was unsafe to do


otherwise. Then we headed back to Beirut. Despite being covered in


layers of hashish from Ali's factory, we headed straight to the


police office. I wanted to know how Ali could be so open about this


without getting into trouble with the authorities. People speaking to


hear tell me the police too quick to punish the small-time consumers and


are too reluctant to punish the big-time growers in the country.


I've arranged to meet the head of drug enforcement here to see if he


agrees. English? BBC. Yes. I'm not purposely as close to you in the


lift. Where are we going now? What is in these things? Hashish. Do


you consider hashish as bad as heroin? Hashish is the most


dangerous drugs for the human being. How many people do you arrest each


year for hashish? Thousands of people, hundreds a year. 2000, 3000


during a year. I can put you in jail for three years. Three years for


hashish? Yes, all the boxes, we have drugs. We have big agriculture for


thousands square of land for hashish. You know about that? We


went to a farm to see. All, you went to a farm? That was one of the most


amazing things was seeing a hashish farmer who was willing to go on


camera and talk about it. Is it not illegal to grow? Yes, it's not


legal. How did he get away with growing hashish and talking about


it? Since the war in Syria, our government took the decision to send


us and destroy the hashish. So you can tackle these guys because of the


war in Syria and resources are elsewhere? Our ability is not


enough, because most of the guys there have maybe weapons more than


the police. When we went to the spartan, the guy was kind of taking


out all the weapons he has, boasting that the government can never touch.


If I have 100 soldiers, I can go and put him like a mouse, OK? On the one


hand, you have these kind of drug dealers and hashish farmers, who can


get away with it and talk openly on TV about growing hashish, but then


you have people who are small-time consumers, who are scared to even


talk about smoking it. How has it got to this point? It's a good


question. It's something to make ourselves upset. We are interested


to get the drugs dealer and put in jail for hundreds of years. What we


do with addicts and drug users, like sick people. One argument he would


users there's nothing else for him to farm but hashish. He has a liar.


They try to make that Beagle, because they benefit to make the


hashish legal. It's war between the good guy and the bad guy. Would it


not make society safer in a way, because you wouldn't need drug


lords, the government could control hashish farming? Yes, I cannot


expect one day that hashish will be legal. It's clear that the war in


Syria has had a huge effect, but it doesn't mean they have stopped


arresting people for smoking hashish. This man was in jail for a


hashish conviction. It was overturned, but it changes like the


good. I was a straight-A student, but my life was put on hold, because


I was sent to prison for smoking. They got me, I went to the station.


They put the only torture device, where they handcuff you and your


upside down. I was 19 at the time. How long are you in prison for? I


was in prison for a year and three months. Did they find hashish on


you? There was no evidence. The arrested Ewing said you would a drug


dealer, basically. Did you deal in drugs? Not at all, I don't be too.


What was the worst thing that happened to you in prison? I got


knifed. It is a horrible place. You find killers. Block B was controlled


by Isis. The social destruction that was the hardest point about the


experience. When you're a guy who has been to prison. Some people say


you are doing something illegal. To me, is not illegal. What am I doing?


Smoking and at home. It's crazy, it must read your life, you got kicked


out of university and you're still smoking hashish. It was the


government. Do you see yourself as a criminal? The government made me a


criminal. I'm not sure. I'm a nice guy. I just smoke. His story shows


just how serious the consequences can be from messing around with


hashish. For a country with so much of it, could it ever be legal? Judy


the country's civil War, the industry generated hundreds of


billions of dollars. A couple of years ago, the leader of the


Progressive party made headlines after he treated calling for


legalisation of cannabis. Some got excited. I met with one of his party


members to see if they still thought that way. He seemed busy, so I had


to be quick. So you want hashish to be legalised in Lebanon on? Yes. Do


you see that is something that will actually happen. It's not easy. They


want people to be able to smoke it on the streets grow it freely?


If it's legal to grow here in farm but illegal to smoke it, what's the


point? OK, all right. Thank very much.


It doesn't seem that marijuana is going to be legalised any time soon


in Lebanon. What does seem possible is growing it and exporting it


illegal, but smoking it could get you into big trouble. Some people


say that is happening already. Do I just talk about something? OK. Is he


a Pablo Escobar after season two or the episode where he's running for


president? Nobody knows anything about him yet. I don't know.


Hashish, I don't know that much about hashish. What do you know


about hashish? I know nothing. It's very quiet on the weather front


today, but there are some changes afoot. In fact, early next week,


winning four and a chill,


Download Subtitles