Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 November 2019

Dubai dhow sailors arrested in huge drug bust

Customs officers found 270,000 pills in one of the biggest seizures to date

Traditional dhows dock in Dubai Creek. Sarah Dea / The National
Traditional dhows dock in Dubai Creek. Sarah Dea / The National

A dhow boat captain and his sailors tried to smuggle more than 270,000 illegal pills into Dubai hidden next to the boat's engine.

Dubai Customs said the crew believed officers would not search the fuel section of the engine room where temperatures hit 60C.

Officers found the haul of 137 bags during a search in which the captain appeared suspicious, the agency said in a statement on Sunday. The bags were stuffed into empty fuel tanks.

Customs did not state where the bust took place, though the main dhow port on Dubai Creek near the gold souq is the main arrival and departure point for most vessels.

The agency did not say how many arrests were made.

The pills were hidden in an engine tank in an attempt to avoid detection. Courtesy: Dubai Customs
The pills were hidden in an engine tank in an attempt to avoid detection. Courtesy: Dubai Customs

Ahmed Al Daleel, head of the coastal customs centre, said the crew's attempts were "thwarted to the vigilance and sophisticated training of our inspectors".

Last month, customs seized about 800,000 Captagon tablets at the city's busiest port, Jebel Ali. Officers with dogs found the Dh3 million stash on a vessel. The pills were also hidden inside a fuel container.

In May, the agency seized about 5.7 million tablets of the same drug at Jebel Ali.

Police did not name the Arab state the container had been shipped from, but Syrian drug gangs have been implicated in the manufacture and smuggling of Captagon to the Gulf and Europe.

Mr Al Daleel said there were eight major seizures last year.

Captagon - which has been described as a 'super-charged amphetamine' - was initially produced in the 1960s as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy and depression.

But it was banned in the 1980s due to the highly addictive nature.

Commercial manufacturing of the drug has long ceased but illegal manufacturing continues. Gangs combine several addictive stimulants that compound the destructive effects of Captagon's amphetamine and theophylline.

In July, Greek authorities seized what they described as they world's largest single haul of Captagon - 5.25 tonnes of the drug or 33 million pills.

The government said the drugs were worth about $660 million and destined for China.

Updated: August 4, 2019 05:27 PM

SHARE

SHARE