The Maldives police on Monday seized 149kg of heroin and cannabis buried on an uninhabited island in the southern Gaaf Dhaalu atoll.
With an estimated street value of MVR260 million (US$16 million), it was the largest haul from a single operation.
The record bust was revealed by Commissioner Mohamed Hameed at a function held on the Gaaf Dhaalu Thinaadhoo Monday night to mark the 86th anniversary of the Maldives police.
The 100kg of heroin and 49kg of cannabis were smuggled on a foreign vessel and buried on the Hulhuvaarulu island, according to the police chief. Based on intelligence information, a 72-hour operation was conducted to locate the drugs, he said.
Suspected traffickers as well as the vessels used to transport the drugs have been identified, Hameed told local media on Tuesday.
Five Maldivian men were taken into custody. On Monday night, the Ghaaf Dhaal Gadhdhoo magistrate court remanded one suspect to 10 days in custody and ordered the detention of other suspects until the conclusion of a trial.
In 2018, the Maldives Customs Service seized 32kg of drugs in 83 cases, a whopping 232 percent increase from the previous year.
Heroin and hashish oil (a liquid extract of cannabis) are the most commonly used drugs in the Maldives, but LSD, ecstasy and other synthetic drugs have been found in recent years.
The country’s biggest drug haul came in 2006, when 1.6 tonnes of cannabis was found submerged in the lagoon of an island in Alif Alif atoll.
No arrests were made and police destroyed the stash two years later.
Applaud the work of Drug Enforcement Dept., Directorate of Intelligence and Upper South Police Division to seize an approximate total 149 kgs of drugs (heroin and cannabis) trafficked via sea and buried on the island of Gaafu Dhaalu Hulhuvaarulu, in a very successful operation.👏🏽
— Mohamed Hameed (@M_Hameedh) April 29, 2019