Saudi authorities issue more than $1.33m in fines for illegal pilgrim trafficking

A total of 69 citizens and 22 residents were discovered illegally transporting pilgrims



Saudi authorities have issued more than SAR5m ($1.33m) in fines to citizens and residents for illegally transporting pilgrims without Hajj permits.

As many as 90 administrative decisions have been issued against violators with penalties ranging from fines, prison sentences, deportation, defamation and confiscation of transport, the General Directorate of Passports said on Thursday.

A total of 69 citizens and 22 residents were discovered transporting 498 pilgrims without permits into Makkah, at Shemeissi, Tanneim, Bahitah and Kar.

Authorities issued SAR5,245,000 ($1.398m) of fines, with the regular punishment SAR50,000 ($13,333.5) per pilgrim and imprisonment for up to six months followed by deportation for foreigners.

Foreign residents will also be banned for returning to the kingdom and face having their vehicle confiscated.

Saudi authorities said last week they had turned away more than 400,000 pilgrims from Makkah because they lacked a Hajj permit.

Read: Saudi authorities turn away 400,000 pilgrims

At that time, 1,841 expats were facing legal action for trafficking pilgrims.