x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Drug dealers 'are watching the sentences courts hand down'

Drug smugglers and dealers are big fans of the news, the emirate's top narcotics prosecutor says.

DUBAI // Drug smugglers and dealers are big fans of the news, the emirate's top narcotics prosecutor says. "Pedlars and smugglers follow the news every day and see the deterring procedures and sentences issued against them," said the Chief Prosecutor, Waleed al Fuqa'ai, the head of the Dubai Narcotics Prosecution. He was speaking as his department announced a 95 per cent conviction rate on drug cases that went to court last year.

Earlier, Dubai Police said there had been a 39 per cent increase in arrests for drug offences in 2009 and a 20 per cent increase in cases. Last year, there were 1,021 arrests in 653 cases which involved 233kg of seized drugs. In 2008, there were 734 arrests in 542 cases, involving 158kg of narcotics. The special prosecution department, formed last September, had already seen a drop in the number of cases, said Mr al Fuqa'ai, although he did not provide statistics.

The decrease was put down to an increase in seizures by police and customs officials - and the fact all suspects are prosecuted under a zero-tolerance policy. Mr al Fuqa'ai said most defendants were repeat offenders, whether they were dealers or users. Prosecutors also noticed that many offenders tried to pass themselves off as medicinal users of controlled substances. "Some drug users present medical certificates for the controlled drugs they use or abuse drugs that are not listed in the controlled narcotics list," he said.

"We will prosecute any abuser even if it is with a medical prescription. Abuse is not tolerated." amustafa@thenational.ae