DUBAI // Customs officials discovered Dh44 million worth of the drug crystal methamphetamine in transit at Dubai International Airport, officials said yesterday.
The 113-kilogram consignment, which originated in Iran and was headed to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur via Dubai and Saudi Arabia, was discovered in August inside rolls of plastic.
"Inspectors suspected the cargo after the items were X-rayed, and they found the weight of the rolls heavier than usual, so they manually unwrapped and inspected the material," said Ahmed bin Butti, the director general of Dubai Customs.
"While manually searching the plastic rolls, the team detected a crystalised white substance at the bottom, wrapped into small transparent bags to transport the contents."
The Dubai Customs mobile laboratory team found the substance to be crystal methamphetamine.
Documentation on the cargo showed it was on its way to Kuala Lumpur.
"In co-ordination with the Dubai Police anti-narcotics department, information about the seized shipment was immediately exchanged with the concerned authorities in Malaysia and Singapore, where the shipment was planned to pass by transit after moving from Dubai," said Mr bin Butti. "An inspector was appointed to monitor the suspected shipment and follow its handling process," he said. That "led to the confiscation of the shipment at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the arrest of one person there".
The Malaysian Consul General Ahmed Fadil Shamsuddin congratulated the UAE's efforts to fight drugs.
"After the information passed to us from Dubai Customs, we managed to arrest one person in Kuala Lumpur. Currently the person is in detention, and the Royal Malaysian Police Force is investigating the matter," he said.
The Consul General declined to disclose any information about the suspect.
Dubai authorities have also informed their Iranian counterparts of the shipment.
Boris Znamenski, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) programme co-ordinator for the GCC, said that crystal methampthetamine was the third-most-used drug in Malaysia after heroin and marijuana.
According to the 2010 world drug report issued by the UNODC, Malaysia has seen an increase of more than 10 per cent in methamphetamine seizures since 2008.
Mr Znamenski said yesterday that Dubai's location and its status as a global transportation hub had led to a high volume of narcotics trafficking.
"Around May-June this year, a container with 14.6 tonnes of chemicals used to manufacture cocaine, heroin and opium was seized and destroyed by Dubai Customs. These products came from Cameroon and were transiting through to Afghanistan," Mr Znamenski said. "Such international co-operation is what the UN is hoping for, and such busts and seizures have helped in the fight against drug cartels."
The number of drug seizures had increased dramatically from last year to this, said Mr bin Butti.
"In the first nine months of 2009, we had a total of 2,355 seizures of narcotics, counterfeit materials and others. In 2010 during the same period, we have had 4,641 seizures," he said.
"The reasons for this increase are the global increase in demand for drugs and contraband materials, as well as the service provisions offered in Dubai while being a global hub, and the increase in the number of airlines we service here," he added. "I would like to send a message to all smugglers that no matter the volume of trade we have in Dubai, we will still weed them out."