Two Maldivians were arrested Tuesday on charges of trafficking some 1.7 kilograms of heroin through the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.
The Maldives Customs Services said a 29-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman were arrested with 940g and 763g of heroin, respectively.
“The pair were subjected to a check through profiling and targeting,” Customs said, adding that the heroin stash was concealed in their bags.
The pair were traveling from Colombo to Malé on separate Sri Lankan Airlines flights on May 3. The man, who has a previous criminal record for theft and drug offences, reportedly traveled on the morning flight while the woman traveled on the afternoon flight.
They have now been remanded for 15 days, a police spokesman said.
Maldivians have previously been linked with regional and international drug networks.
Tuesday’s bust follows the arrest of several Maldivians in Colombo over drug trafficking.
On April 22, two Maldivian men, aged 28 and 30 years were caught with 1.2kg of heroin from a hotel in Colombo’s Bambalapitiya district.
In March, a Maldivian couple was arrested on charges of drug trafficking after being caught attempting to smuggle over 3kg of heroin through Katunayaka airport, Colombo.
The pair’s interrogation had led to the arrest of other two Maldivians and three Sri Lankans, one of which includes the alleged ringleader, Sri Lankan media reported.
Petty drug users are often arrested and charged with possession, but law enforcement authorities 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.