DUBAI // Police say they have busted a drug trafficking gang whose members would smuggle heroin into the country by swallowing capsules with the drug inside.
Officers have arrested 21 people trying to enter Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman with the drug inside their bodies since they began to investigate the network in July last year. More than 18kg of the drug was recovered, which police say was to be distributed locally.
Dubai Police have asked Pakistan to arrest two of its nationals who are thought to be the masterminds behind the network.
"Our investigations have revealed that the two men are operating one of the most dangerous drug trafficking gangs in the world," Major General Abdul Al Jaleel Al Mahdi, the head of the anti-narcotic department at Dubai Police, said today.
"They are taking advantage of poor people to make them smuggle these drugs inside their bodies for as little as US$300 dollars. Some poor people agree despite the deadly risk which might occur if the capsules explode inside the body."
A sudden rise in the number of people caught smuggling heroin in this way prompted police suspicions that an organised network must be targeting the country.
"We started analysing the cases and requestioned some of the suspects," said Captain Ibrahim Al Seba'a, the head of the international anti-narcotic division at Dubai Police.
He said those involved had a number of things in common: they all arrived in the country on low fare airlines, they were all on visit visas and did not know anyone in the UAE. They all came from impoverished backgrounds and most were middle-aged.
"We started scrutinising any passenger who fit those criteria and found some with heroin inside them even without any tip offs," said Capt Al Seba'a.
"So we provided information on their criminal methods to Abu Dhabi Police and Omani authorities and they were able to carry out some arrests as well," he added.
Fourteen of the arrests were made in Dubai, five in Abu Dhabi and two in Oman.