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Beirut - An elderly woman was caught trying to smuggle 31 kilograms of cocaine into Lebanon by the customs department at Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport on Friday, the finance ministry said.

Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil called it "the largest-ever cocaine smuggling operation" in the country, adding on Twitter that the suspect had come to Beirut from Venezuela via France.

Airport customs in the Lebanese capital "seized a large quantity of 31 kilograms of net cocaine hidden in the luggage of an old Venezuelan woman who is about 80 years old," a statement from the finance ministry statement said.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese News Agency (NNA) said a Saudi prince was also arrested at Beirut airport on suspicion of carrying drugs.

The prince reportedly refused to be inspected at first by security and was subsequently arrested.

But the prince was later released after being questioned, judicial sources said without giving details.