Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 27 May 2020

The ongoing war on drugs

UAE is becoming an increasing target for drug smugglers. What can we do to stop it?
Traffickers are continuously probing the customs defences of countries, to figure out where the weakest points are. Courtesy Security Media
Traffickers are continuously probing the customs defences of countries, to figure out where the weakest points are. Courtesy Security Media

The UAE’s strategic location and economic strength make it a very attractive place for international drugs smugglers. As described in yesterday’s newspaper, drug gangs are resorting to more and more outlandish – even creative – methods in order to evade authorities. But the unmistakeable message from Dubai Customs was: we have the technology to find you.

Swallowing liquid cocaine in condoms is the latest ruse. But apart from exposing the drug mule to extreme danger – even the smallest leak of cocaine could endanger the person carrying it inside them – the method is detected by scanners at the airport According to official statistics, 312 attempts to smuggle drugs were thwarted by Dubai Customs in the first quarter of this year, with most of those arrested between the ages 26 and 35. In 2016, authorities foiled 1,030 smuggling attempts.

But there is no room for complacency. Traffickers are continuously probing the customs defences of countries, to figure out where the weakest points are. Last week, a man was arrested in Fujairah with four kilograms of heroin. In the same week, Saudi customs officers found two million Captagon pills hidden in a truck. A few days before, three-quarters of a million Captagon pills were found in France, in a shipment that customs officials said may have been bound for Saudi Arabia.

The fact is that all the GCC countries are bound together by transport links and so smugglers will use whichever entry point they think they can bypass. The strength of any customs regime is therefore dependent on all the others in the chain.

Adopting the latest and most advanced technologies and providing the necessary training to improve the performance of inspectors at customs facilities is therefore vital. Cooperation with different entities to enhance customs work is also essential.

But more than that, vigilance, intelligence and informers are essential to maintaining security. The war on drugs is a long war and a war that will always exist in some form as long as there are people willing to spend money on illegal narcotics.

Updated: June 4, 2017 04:00 AM

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