Five suspects in custody over a 6kg drug bust were previously arrested several times on assault and drug-related charges.
The five Maldivian men were arrested in Malé last Tuesday after a seven-day operation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Department, drug intelligence and the Upper North Division, according to police chief Mohamed Hameed.
The suspects included “a high-profile drug trafficker,” he tweeted.
Upon arriving in the capital from a northern island, they were caught with six large rubber packets containing illicit narcotics, police said. They were suspected to belong to a drug trafficking network.
The criminal court has since remanded all five suspects to 15 days in custody.
On Wednesday evening, police revealed the identities and criminal records of the suspects, who were between 31 to 43 years of age.
The alleged drug kingpin, Abdulla Ibrahim, from Seenu Hitadhoo, was previously arrested eight times over drug-related offences, twice over gang fights, twice for disobedience to order, and once for alleged sexual assault. He had also been arrested in connection with an alleged gang rape.
Ali Hassan, also from Hithadhoo in the southernmost atoll, was arrested nine times on drug-related charges, one time for assault and one time for vandalism. Mohamed Faisal from Hithadhoo was arrested twice on drug-related charges and once over a gang fight with sharp objects.
The other two suspects, Ahmed Rauf and Ahmed Mamdhooh, were both from Hoarafushi island in the northernmost Haa Alif atoll. Rauf was arrested three times for theft, once over drugs and once for disobedience to order.
Mamdhooh was arrested once on a drug-related charge. He was convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison over a bomb allegedly planted near the presidential residence in November 2015. But he was freed after the High Court set aside the conviction in October last year.
On Wednesday, Indian newspaper The Hindu reported that the bulk of the hashish smuggled to Kerala from marijuana-growing regions in Andhra Pradesh is trafficked to the Maldives.
In late April, police found 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.
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.