x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Traders in fake saffron arrested

Police say a gang was making and selling fake saffron.

DUBAI // Officers busted up two operations trading fake saffron in the city, police said yesterday.

Four men were arrested last month after complaints to the police's anti-economic crimes division.

"The first gang was found to be mixing real, imported saffron with corn grains that were dyed red," said Lt Col Bu Esaiba, the director of the division.

They were arrested in Deira and found with 58 packets of fake saffron ready for trade in addition to 22 larger plastic bags filled with fake saffron, police said.

Four bottles of red dye were also recovered during the raid, police said.

In the second bust, Lt Col Bu Esaiba said, the anti-economic crimes division followed an Asian man who was marketing 250kg of what he said was saffron.

"We employed an undercover source to contact the man and reach a deal with him," Lt Col Bu Esaiba said.

The police source agreed to purchase the entire amount for Dh35,000, and a sting operation was set up. The Asian man was arrested after the purchase.

"After we arrested the trader, a search of his home recovered 10kg of fake saffron being prepared to be sold in the market, and his accomplice was detained," he said.

Police said the four men had all confessed to attempting to sell fake saffron and have been referred to prosecutors to face charges of life endangerment and fraud.

Saffron is expensive because of the labour that goes into its preparation. About 450 grams of dry saffron requires 50,000 to 75,000 flowers to produce.

amustafa@thenational.ae