x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Scanners find heroin in man's stomach

A bust of a heroin-smuggling gang came with the use of body scanners, officials said.

DUBAI // Heroin worth thousands of dirhams was found inside the stomach of a man at Dubai International Airport by customs officials using a full body scanner.

The scanners picked up 95 bags of the drug which had been swallowed by the man. And his arrest led to the seizure of more than 3kg of heroin in hundreds of other capsules inside five other suspects, police said yesterday. The total haul was worth Dh550,000.

The first man was pulled aside and scanned because he was acting suspiciously; the scanners are not used on the general public, officials said.

"We have three scanners at all the terminals, which are used for suspected traffickers. They have been set up in compliance with the Civil Aviation Authority's regulations and are completely safe for the passengers and inspectors," said Ali Al Meghawi, the director of airport operations at Dubai Customs.

Mr Al Meghawi added that 30 more trained sniffer dogs were being added to the 35 Dubai Customs already uses

The scanners were used to help arrest the six male suspects over about three weeks, police said.

On July 8, an Afghan traveller identified as O?A arrived at Dubai Airport from Pakistan.

“Customs inspectors, trained to spot erratic behaviour and study passengers’ body language, flagged the suspect and searched his luggage,” Mr Al Meghawi said.

“O?A incessantly denied carrying any contraband but was later taken to the body scanner, which revealed the ingested capsules.”

O?A had swallowed 95 bags, which filled his stomach to the top, officials said. Police said five methadone pills were also found in his luggage.

“Investigations with the suspect revealed that he was due to meet with a second suspect who was going to store it before handing the drugs to a third suspect in exchange for Dh2,000,” said Maj Mohammed Humaid, who led the operation.

The details provided by that second suspect, the Afghan K?N, led to the arrest of a third man, O?O, who was detained on July 11 in a covert operation at an Al Quoz restaurant, said Col Khalid Al Kawari, the deputy director of the Dubai Police Anti-Narcotics Department.

“The day after his arrest, O?O received a call from the fourth suspect, who declared that he had arrived in Abu Dhabi with more capsules and that he will be in Al Mafraq district of the capital,” Col Al Kawari said.

S?I was arrested by Abu Dhabi police on July 12, and 10 capsules of heroin were found with him. Seventy more remained in his body, officials said.

O?O then received two more calls on July 21 and 24 from the fifth and sixth suspects, who had ingested more than 150 capsules, police said.

Police said the narcotics were to be transported to a neighbouring GCC country and Europe.

All six men have been referred to prosecution to face trafficking charges, Col Al Kawari said yesterday.

amustafa@thenational.ae