A Pakistani national was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to life imprisonment by the criminal court on Sunday.
Mohamed Asif was found guilty of smuggling 286 grammes of illicit narcotics into the Maldives on February 6. According to the verdict, he swallowed 35 “bullets” containing the drugs and arrived on a Sri Lankan airlines flight.
The criminal court also imposed a fine of MVR100,000 (US$6,485) to be paid in 30 days.
Smuggling drugs into the Maldives is punishable by life imprisonment.
In late August, customs officers at the airport seized 944 grammes of cannabis from a 24-year-old Bangladesh man.
The man’s behaviour aroused the suspicion of customs officers, who questioned him and found the drugs concealed in his luggage.
Petty drug users are often arrested and charged with possession in the Maldives, but both the police and courts have a history of releasing suspected drug traffickers.
Convictions in high-profile drug trafficking cases are rare.
According to a 2012 UN report, there are 7,496 drug addicts in the Maldives. However, critics say the real figure is likely to be much higher as the country’s entrenched drug problem has grown to endemic proportions during the past three decades.
In early June, the police seized 29 kilos of heroin and arrested four in the biggest drug bust in the country’s history.
The largest drug bust prior to that involved 24kg of heroin smuggled into the Maldives on an Iranian boat in March 2014.
Only two of the 18 suspects are standing trial. Some 11 Pakistanis arrested were later deported.
The criminal court wrapped up hearings in early June.
In July, two Maldivians were arrested in Colombo with 385g of heroin. According to Sri Lankan media, the pair were “suspected to be major players in a drug racket operating between Pakistan and Maldives through Sri Lanka.”
Some six Maldivians were also arrested in Sri Lanka earlier this year on charges of drug trafficking. The two separate cases involved some 4kg of heroin.
The Maldivians arrested in both cases were also thought to be part of a wider drug network operating in Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.