x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Jail for smugglers who hid heroin at market

Two drug smugglers who hid more than Dh4m worth of heroin in cartons of oranges are jailed for ten years.

DUBAI // Two drug smugglers who hid more than Dh4 million worth of heroin in cartons of oranges at the Dubai fruit and vegetable market were today jailed for 10 years.

KO, a 34-year-old from Nigeria, and his compatriot MS, 32, were also fined Dh50,000 each by the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance. They will be deported following their jail terms.

KO admitted possessing 16kgs of heroin, but denied the trafficking charge, while MS denied charges of possessing and trafficking 30kg of heroin.

A third man, the 36-year-old MA from Pakistan, was cleared of possession and trafficking 10kg of heroin.

Police arrested the men in June during Operation Orange Harvest. Following a tip off, officers tracked a shipment of 2,565 cartons of oranges that arrived in Jebel Ali Port from Afghanistan via Pakistan last year. The orange cartons also contained 58kgs of the drug, contained in plastic bags and hidden inside the flaps of the boxes. The drugs were said to be heading to Africa and ultimately to Europe for mass consumption.

MA, a salesman, was arrested in Al Aweer, KO, also a salesman, in Naif and MS, an employee, near Hor Al Anz between March 5 and 7.

The drug shipment was stored in a warehouse at the Dubai fruit and vegetable market after arriving at the port.

MAH, Bangladeshi salesman, testified that MA approached him and asked him to find a warehouse where he could store a large shipment of oranges in return for a commission.

He said two Pakistanis accompanied MA and claimed the shipment was for them. MAH found them a warehouse where they stored 1005 boxes. The men said the rest of the cartons had been sold.

MAH said he noticed that when the men removed boxes from the warehouse they chose cartons bearing a special mark.

A few days later, with 700 hundred cartons remaining, police arrived and discovered the drugs.

salamir@thenational.ae