UAE authorities have seized banned products – including the chewable drug paan – worth more than Dh25.2m ($6.9m) and arrested a group of men who attempted to smuggle the goods into the country.
The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security was tipped off about 14 containers arriving to Fujairah port carrying the prohibited products.
Officers from Fujairah Customs Department, with help from other authorities, confiscated the containers and arrested the suspects, who are said to be Arab and Asian nationalities.
The suspects tried to bribe a customs employee into allowing the shipments into the country for Dh280,000.
They intended to store the products before selling them in local markets.
Paan leaf, which is banned in the Emirates, provides a mild stimulant effect when chewed. It is often spat on the ground afterwards.
No details were disclosed about the date of the smuggling attempt.
“Protecting the public and enhancing its security is one of the authority’s strategic goals,” said Ahmed Abdullah bin Lahej Al Falasi, acting director general of customs at the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, Customs and Ports Security.
“This is also part of developing inspection systems and managing customs risks in a way that helps facilitate trade.”
Rashid Hammad Al Hefaiti, director general of Fujairah Customs, said the seizure was the result of an exchange of information between the authority and relevant departments.
“The prohibited materials were confiscated in co-ordination with Fujairah Police and the emirate’s port authority,” he said.
They will continue to conduct inspections on all shipments and containers.
“This is to monitor violations that pose threat to security and society in order to ensure consumer protection and support the process of economic development and building a competitive economy,” Mr Al Hefaiti said.