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Witnesses say the Houthis have spared loyalists, arresting only those not affiliated the group and those who openly oppose the rebels

Houthis consolidate control over hashish trade in Saudi border crackdown

The Houthis have launched a crackdown on merchants and drug smugglers along the Yemen-Saudi border under the pretext of fighting the lucrative hashish (cannabis) trade, according to a local tribal sheikh in northern Sa'ada governorate. But only non-Houthi merchants and smugglers seem to be targets of the campaign. 

The sheikh, who spoke to Almasdar Online on condition of anonymity, said that Abu Ali Al-Hakim, a senior Houthi military commander, has supervised the campaign that started in early February, arresting dozens of people in the Sa’ada districts of Razih, Ghamer, and Munabbih, and confiscating their cars, money and other belongings. 

About 65 arrests were made in Razih, 100 in Ghamer and 20 in Munnabih, he said, adding that the campaign is ongoing and the number of arrests is likely to rise. 

Eyewitnesses in the area said the Houthi campaign started in Ghamer under tightening security conditions. Houthis have increased security check points on the main roads and side streets linking the three districts to other areas in search of individuals on a wanted list. The homes of individuals on the list have been raided in more than one village, witnesses told Almasdar Online.

Amid the crackdown, witnesses said Houthis had arrested traders not affiliated with the group, as well as those who openly opposed the Houthis. 

One witness, who is also the brother of a man arrested in the crackdown, said the campaign is not being carried out as promoted by the Houthis to fight hashish smuggling. 

"This campaign aims to tighten control over the hashish trade for the benefit of the Houthis and to punish non-Houthi traders," he said. “If they arrested my brother on charges that he is a hashish user, why not arrest Abu Zafer (a Houthi leader known for smuggling hashish)?”


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