Abu Dhabi Police seize 50 per cent more drugs in past 12 months

Narcotics included crystal meth and heroin

Officers seized 400,000 pills and 380 kilograms of hashish last October. Courtesy: Abu Dhabi Police.
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Police in Abu Dhabi have seized 18 tonnes of drugs since June last year - a 50 per cent increase.

This was up from 12 tonnes during the previous 12 months.

The amount seized was revealed during a virtual forum on Monday. It was hosted by the police and the National Rehabilitation Centre.

Officers did not give a detailed breakdown but said the drugs included crystal meth and heroin.

The force also warned that addicts were mixing traditional drugs with other illegal substances that posed a severe risk.

The seizures show that we have a better grip over this type of crime

Dealers from abroad increasingly target addicts in the UAE and also sell materials such as "heroin infused paper", the forum heard.

The NRC in Abu Dhabi was established in 2002 to serve Emiratis and residents in the UAE.

Officers said the increase in seizures did not mean trafficking had increased.

“It means that we have a better grip over the crime,” said Col Mohammed Al Mansouri, head of awareness at the anti-drugs department.

“And when I start catching more cases, this is a good sign that we are controlling the crime. There will always be a hidden percentage that has not been caught."

Dealers are mixing drugs to produce substances that pose a greater risk to public health, the forum heard.

“The drug market only focuses on making more profit and not products with high quality, but those drugs are more dangerous to the health than the pure ones," Col Al Mansouri said.

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The way addicts are treated in the UAE has changed over the years. The talk examined how well this approach was working.

In 2016, changes to the law significantly reduced punishment for users, although not for smugglers and suppliers.

In June it was revealed that more drug addicts in the UAE have been seeking treatment since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

Awareness campaigns and a rise in online services run by the NRC are thought to be behind the increase.

Figures released by the NRC show addicts in the UAE have recovery rates of up to 66 per cent while rates in most countries do not exceed 40 per cent, the forum heard.

Fadeela Al Meanini, an Emirati media personality who moderated the talk, asked about the trend for online dealers trying to sell drugs in the UAE.

She gave the example of a young recovered addict who received about 200 text messages a day from international dealers.

“They send him lucrative videos of crystal meth, for example, and tell him in detail where to find it, on which street and which corner and after how many light poles,” she said.

The moderator said the boy’s mother told her about the messages.

“Is there anything you can do in such a situation?” she asked the police force.

Col Al Mansouri said any drug dealers can be reported and will be dealt with. “And I consider this a good sign for a recovered addict to receive 200 messages a day and not give in," he added.

“Also in the UAE there are many factors that deter people from committing or repeating a crime.”

UAE society is generally built on close family ties, traditional values and religious morals, he said.

Previous anti-drug operations in Abu Dhabi include the seizure of 573,000 Captagon pills last September and 45 kilograms of heroin and crystal meth last November.