x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Drug arrests up, but amount seized down

Police say the increasing number of drug-related arrests has led to smaller seizures.

DUBAI // Police say they are making more drug-related arrests, despite a dramatic drop in the amount of drugs seized in the emirate.

In the first 10 months of this year, 1,023 people were arrested in connection with 740 drug-related cases - an increase of 154 cases, or 17 per cent, over the same period last year.

However, the amount of drugs the police seized in Dubai dropped more than 75 per cent, down to 230 kilograms this year compared with 1,005kg in the same period last year.

The discrepancy, according to police, is because most arrests involve drug users, rather than dealers. Only 67 of this year's arrests were for selling drugs.

More than a third of those arrested this year were caught while under the influence of drugs, police said. Those arrested on possession charges made up the second-largest group, with 212 suspects. About 400 of those arrested were from GCC countries.

"The figures indicate that Dubai streets are not full of drugs and that the majority of cases involve drug users," said a police spokesman. "We will continue to crack down on drug users, with the exception of those who seek help to be treated from their addiction. These have immunity."

Among those arrested was a 46-year-old man who was growing three marijuana plants in his yard. The man, a tailor, was arrested in April.

"This is not the first such case registered with us, but it definitely does not happen often - maybe once every five years or so," the spokesman said.

Heroin topped the list of seized drugs, with more than 100 kilograms being confiscated. More than 140,000 pills were also seized.

"The real criteria in the effectiveness of the measures taken by Dubai police is reflected by the number of cases registered this year rather than with the quantities seized," said the spokesman.

wissa@thenational.ae