x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Suspected smuggler swallowed 'precious stones'

A man charged with trafficking drugs said he thought the capsules of heroin he swallowed were precious stones.

The case was adjourned until July 16.
The case was adjourned until July 16.

DUBAI // A Nigerian man charged with trafficking drugs said he thought the capsules of heroin he swallowed were precious stones. The defendant, FA, 41, swallowed 74 capsules containing 1.6kg of heroin, but claimed he did not know he had ingested the drug, the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance was told yesterday. "I thought the capsules contained precious stones. I was told to deliver the precious stones to Vietnam," he said in court.

The defendant was arrested at Dubai International Airport in May after customs inspectors became suspicious and decided to search him. An abdomen scan revealed foreign objects in his intestines and inspectors sent him to hospital, where the capsules were retrieved. The defendant admitted before the public prosecution that another man, JW, gave him the capsules in the UAE and asked him to swallow and deliver them to Vietnam in exchange for US$1,000 (Dh3,670).

The defendant said he was paid half the money in advance and told he would receive the rest upon delivery of the drugs. The case was adjourned until July 16. It is the latest in a string of drugs arrests made by Dubai police. In the first five months of the year, police seized more than 70kg of drugs, worth about Dh35 million. They arrested 575 people for drugs offences, up from 433 during the same period last year.

Officials have acknowledged the UAE was being used as a hub in the trade of drugs and counterfeit goods. Last year, the Emirates became one of 143 countries to ratify the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, committing to clamp down on people smuggling and the illicit global trade in weapons and adding to previous agreements relating to drugs and counterfeiting. Last month, the Government signed an agreement with Russia to combat the growing influence of Russian gangs in money laundering, drug smuggling and people trafficking.

Similar agreements have been signed with countries around the world and, in recent months, the UAE has hosted visits from customs and police officials from China, the United States, Russia and Europe to build the relationships needed to combat international gangs. @Email:hbathish@thenational.ae