DUBAI // A man police called "The Professional", who was caught in one of Dubai's biggest drug busts, has been sentenced to life in prison and fined Dh50,000.
HA, a Syrian national, was convicted of drug smuggling and possession with intent to sell 709kg of Captagon pills, which are amphetamines.
He smuggled 4.2 million of the pills into the country; they had a street value of Dh210 million.
HA, 29, was arrested on November 11 last year after smuggling the pills into the UAE through the Jebel Ali Port. The pills were hidden in 148 rolls of textiles. He had been storing them in a warehouse in Al Qusais.
He was also charged with possession with intent to consume nine Diazepam capsules and charged for consuming another psychotropic drug.
The seizure of the amphetamines - Dubai's largest yet - came after a three-week operation, which was prompted by a tip-off from Saudi authorities.
Court records show HA single-handedly unloaded the textile rolls and stored them in a warehouse, then unloaded 4,199 packages that each contained 1,000 pills each. He packed the drugs in cardboard boxes and intended to transport them to Saudi Arabia.
HA was also in touch with a supplier in Syria who was finalising the transaction with a buyer, but, according to police records, the deal fell through.
Prosecution records show the defendant had previously conducted a similar operation in Dubai with a smaller amount of illegal drugs.
He told prosecutors he became involved with the most recent deal because he owed the supplier 300,000 Syrian pounds (Dh23,711).
HA also told prosecutors he used the psychotropic drugs for medical treatment.
Captagon is popular among recreational drug users in the Arab world, and is also used by women as a weight-loss aid and by students who want to stay awake while studying for examinations.
Last March, Waleed al Fuqai, the head of drugs prosecution in Dubai, said an Interpol notice would be issued for another person believed to be residing in Syria. The unidentified person is suspected of masterminding the operation.