x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Sharjah sees number of drug crimes double in 10 years

Drug crimes in Sharjah have more than doubled in the past decade, police said.

SHARJAH // Drug crimes in Sharjah have more than doubled in the past decade, police said. The number of drug-related crimes rose from 65 in 1998 to 155 last year, according to statistics released by the police. In 2002, the number peaked at 160 cases. The most frequently trafficked drugs were cannabis and heroin, the police said. Other cases involved khat, opium, cocaine and sleeping pills.

Fifteen Afghan nationals were accused of smuggling 202kg of heroin worth Dh11 million (US$3m) into Sharjah last year. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case. A court source said a ruling was expected next month. This week, customs officers at Dubai International Airport found 16kg of pure heroin powder hidden inside hollowed-out almonds. Brig Yousef al Naqbi, the head of the CID at Sharjah Police, said drug trafficking in the UAE was undergoing a "big evolution".

"It's noticeable that drug traffickers have started targeting the country as a potential market, especially our youth," he said. "Before the country was only used as a transit point and drugs could only be heard of at airports." ykakande@thenational.ae