The police drug enforcement department launched a special operation using sniffer dogs in Malé and nearby islands last Thursday, searching hundreds of suspects for illicit narcotics.
Some 369 people and four homes have been searched as of Sunday, the police said in a statement.
The DED officers with the help of the sniffer dogs found “five pieces of cellophane with suspected drugs and four chocolates with suspected drugs in addition to a piece of paper, cannabis seeds and joints made with suspected drugs.”
A 22-year-old man was also arrested during the operation with drugs in his possession. The police later seized 50 rubber packets containing drugs as well as packing items from the suspect’s residence.
The operation is underway in Malé, the capital’s suburb Hulhumalé and other inhabited islands in Kaafu atoll.
A drug operation has also been ongoing in the southern Addu City since December 15, the police said today.
Several suspects have been frisked and police officers based in the southernmost atoll have been checking public spaces and vacant premises.
Nine suspects aged between 16 to 53 have been arrested so far.
The police also found seven rubber packets containing drugs, alcohol brewing equipment, a 30-litre container, two 20-litre containers, two 1.5 litre bottles, and two liquor bottles.
The police began using sniffer dogs in drug raids for the first time in April 2015.
The dog squad or faaragema cost the government US$40,000. Custom-made kennels were established at the airport, and British and Dutch trainers were enlisted to train police officers on working with the dogs.
The dogs were also used to locate drugs at the high-security Maafushi prison in May 2015.
Some 2,326 cases involving drugs have meanwhile been reported to the police so far this year, up from 2,079 in 2015.
Heroin and hashish oil are the most commonly used drugs in the Maldives, but other drugs such as LSD, ecstasy, and synthetic drugs have been discovered in recent years.
According to a 2012 UN report, there are 7,496 heroin addicts in the Maldives. However, critics say the real figure is likely to be much higher.