x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

600,000 Captagon pills seized

Police say the case demonstrates the scale of the challenge Gulf nations are facing in dealing with the drug trade.

The suspect stands behind the seized half a million Captagon pills.
The suspect stands behind the seized half a million Captagon pills.

SHARJAH // Police have seized more than 600,000 pills of the illegal stimulant Captagon in a case they say demonstrates the scale of the challenge Gulf nations are facing in dealing with the drug trade. Officers have charged a man who they say planned to distribute the drugs within the UAE and in neighbouring countries. The man, whom police described as Arab, is said to have smuggled the drugs into the country within a shipment of diet pills and appetite suppressants. Police estimate the drugs are worth Dh18 million (US$4.9m).

Brig Yousef Musa al Naqbi, the director of Sharjah CID, said the man was arrested when he was observed receiving the shipment. "At first we received a tip from local sources about an Arab national selling a large quantity of forbidden sleeping pills," he said. "We matched this information with information from another Gulf country where the pills were presumed to have come from." The man was placed under surveillance, and police witnessed him receiving the shipment and arrested him in possession of the 600,000 pills.

Captagon is the brand name for a synthetic stimulant called fenethylline, which was invented in the early 1960s. It was banned worldwide but is popular as a recreational drug in many Arab countries. The pills are often counterfeited, and frequently contain only a small amount of fenethylline. Brig al Naqbi said police believed the shipment was one of the largest seized in the country and highlighted the challenge that was still facing the Gulf region in the control of drugs. Drug dealers were constantly devising new ways to evade detection, he said.

In February, Dubai Customs seized 651,000 of the pills bound for Dubai. Brig al Naqbi said the exchange of security information among Gulf states was crucial in the fight against drugs and that information from another Gulf state was crucial to this case. The arrested man has been referred to Sharjah Public Prosecution.
ykakande@thenational.ae