Drugs worth Dh2 million seized from ship parts in Dubai

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The shipment, they said, came from an Asian country.

An attempt to smuggle around 413,000 Captagon narcotic pills worth over Dh2 million has been foiled at the Jebel Ali and Tecom Customs Centre in Dubai.

Dubai Customs officers found the massive haul of illegal drugs in a container of spare parts for ships, a senior official has said. The shipment, they said, came from an Asian country.

Yousef Al Hashimi, director of the Jebel Ali Customs Centre Management, said the vessel changed routes and Dubai became its transit point instead of a final destination, raising suspicion among the authorities.

Since its departure from the Asian port, the shipment was closely monitored and tracked.

“The container was then thoroughly inspected and scanned, and the inspection officers managed to find a false base, under which the prohibited pills were carefully hidden.”

Narcotic pills ranging from Captagon to Lyrica, Methadone and Zinex were seized with the help of police dogs, Al Hashimi said.  The officer attributed the operation’s success to advanced infrastructure and equipment, as well as the skills of the Dubai Customs’ team – all of which ensure that the emirate’s borders are tightly guarded.

Shuaib Al Suwaidi, director of the customs’ intelligence department, said they have defined the risks based on different factors. “The high level of coordination between the intelligence department and Jebel Ali Customs made the seizure possible.”

Back in August this year, Dubai Customs also foiled a bid to smuggle 274,000 Captagon pills worth over Dh1 million, which were stashed in the fuel tank of a vessel.

Captagon pills are man-made drugs that are considered amphetamines. They stimulate the central nervous system, increasing alertness, boosting concentration and physical performance, and providing a sense of ‘feeling good’, said Dr Roua Abdelamim, a pharmacist.

When it was manufactured in 1961, it was prescribed to treat narcolepsy and depression. However, in 1980, the medical community determined that Captagon’s addictive properties outweighed its clinical benefits.

“It was banned in several countries, particularly after it had been proven to lead to extreme depression, malnutrition, heart and blood vessel toxicity, and sleep deprivation,” Dr Abdelamim said.