More than 100 kilos of drugs washed ashore in the north of the Maldives over the weekend after an Iranian vessel ran aground, police said Sunday.
The incident happened on a reef near Innafinolhu island, Haa Alif atoll, last Thursday.
Police recovered 115 kilos of drugs that had washed ashore in three inhabited islands and two uninhabited islands, spokesman Ahmed Shifan said at a joint news conference with the Maldives National Defence Force.
“That night [Thursday] we got reports from Uligamu island about drugs washing ashore. On June 1 Molhadhoo and Ihavandhoo islands also reported drugs on the beach. Police have also recovered drugs from two uninhabited islands in the area,” Shifan told the media.
“They set the boat on fire after they saw uniformed Coast Guard personnel. The initial reports said that it was a fishing vessel,” the MNDF’s Mohamed Saleem said.
Its eight crew – seven Iranians and a Pakistani – were caught by the MNDF while attempting to flee. One suffered burns and all were treated for minor injuries following the arrest, police said.
Police suspect there were more than 115 kilos of drugs on the boat.
“We can’t even estimate how much drugs were on the boat as they had set fire to it,” said Shifan.
Shifan said the quantity suggested that the boat was not smuggling drugs to the Maldives, but crossing the eight and a half degree channel in the country’s north.
In March 2014, around 24 kilos of heroin was smuggled in a vessel registered in Iran.
Two Maldivian men were found guilty and sentenced to life in April last year. They were the only ones to stand trial of the 18 suspects taken into custody, including 11 Pakistanis, four Maldivians and three Bangladeshis.
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.