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Police seize drugs worth US$150k

The police seized drugs worth MVR2.3 million (US$149,000) and arrested six suspects during operations conducted during the weekend.



The police seized drugs worth MVR2.3 million (US$149,000) and arrested six suspects during operations conducted over the weekend.

Briefing the press Tuesday evening, Superintendent Moosa Ali, head of the drug enforcement department, said the first operation was carried out in collaboration with the Maldives Customs Service on May 19 based on intelligence information about a suspect planning to smuggle drugs from India.

“We did not find any narcotics after searching his body and luggage at the airport. He was taken to the hospital for further examination where the doctors confirmed unidentified objects after taking an X-ray,” he said.

The 32-year-old Maldivian man swallowed 29 bullets of heroin weighing 177 grammes before flying into the Maldives.

The second operation carried out was based on intelligence information suggesting that two Pakistani nationals living in Malé were involved in drug trafficking.

Two Pakistani women, aged 29 and 26, were arrested along with two Maldivian men, aged 26 and 19, from a café in the capital city on May 20.

“The four of them were in possession of rubber packets containing narcotics. It weighs around 296 grammes. We also confiscated US$14,000 in possession of the two women,” the superintendent revealed.

Aminath Suzee, deputy head of drug enforcement department, said the third operation was conducted on May 20 following information shared by customs.

In a controlled delivery operation, a Maldivian man was arrested on suspicion of bringing in parcels with narcotics through the post.

The parcels contained one rubber packet with 99 restricted pills, a second one with 256 pills, and two rubber packets with illicit narcotics, she said.

The 20-year-old suspect was arrested when he came to collect the package from the post office. A small container with suspected hash oil was found from a cigarette packet in his pocket.

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.

Petty drug users are often arrested and charged with possession, but law enforcement authorities have a history of releasing suspected drug traffickers.

In a rare successful prosecution of a high-profile drug trafficking case, two Maldivian men were found guilty in late March of smuggling 24kg of heroin and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The 24kg of heroin was seized from a dinghy near Hulhumalé in a major operation that lasted for several days.

As of June last year, it was the largest drug haul from a police operation in the country’s history.

On Monday, the criminal court meanwhile transferred to house arrest a suspect who was arrested in a drug bust on April 15.

The Maldivian man and a foreign national were arrested with drugs worth MVR6 million (US$389,105) in their possession.

The police said at the time that they were stopped and searched while riding around in a motorbike in Malé.

Drugs weighing 1.3 kilos were found in a plastic bag carried by one of the men, the police said.