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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 January 2021

From Hushpuppi to crystal meth gangs, Dubai Police's highest profile busts of the year

Force cracked cases in 2020 involving billions of dirhams in ill-gotten gains

It has been a big year for Dubai Police, one of the Middle East's biggest law enforcement agencies.

The force was involved in major busts as it tackled cybercrime and financial fraud, among other offences.

We take a look at some of the highest profile cases that Dubai Police announced they had cracked this year.

Hushpuppi hauled in

The arrest of alleged fraudster Ramon Abbas made headlines around the globe. The 37-year-old, known as Hushpuppi to millions of followers on Instagram, was captured in a raid in Dubai in June before being extradited to the United States.

The Nigerian, it is alleged, laundered millions of dollars from crimes including cyber heists, fraud and an attempt to cheat an English Premier league club out of £100 million ($125.5m).

All the while, he lived in extraordinary luxury in Dubai's Palazzo Versace residence.

Lawyer Gal Pissetzky said his client was "loved and respected. He is a celebrity”. But his attempt to get Hushpuppi out on bail failed, denied by a Chicago judge.

Scandinavian crime boss snared

June was a fruitful month for Dubai's crime fighters.

Amir Faten Mekky, an international gang leader wanted by Interpol, was tracked down in Dubai and arrested.

Special forces from the State Security Service in Dubai launched a midnight raid at Mekky's residence in the emirate and took him into custody.

Although he is Danish, Mekky is alleged to be a central figure in the gang underworld in Malmo in the south of neighbouring Sweden.

He is also alleged to have led a drug and crime network in southern Spain known as Los Suecos, or "the Swedes". His henchmen were alleged to have planted bombs in rivals' storage facilities. They conducted kidnappings, shootings and burned down cafes.

Police dog sniffs out drugs plot

Dubai Police's pursuit of drugs gangs was given a vital helping hand by man's best friend in February.

Police dog Pule 2 uncovered Dh1.8 billion worth of amphetamines to help officers bring an international drug ring to justice.

The black labrador detected an attempt to smuggle more than 5.7 tonnes of Captagon into the Emirates in large drums used to transport electric cables.

The UAE end of a global plot was masterminded by a 70-year-old man living in Sharjah, who officials said hid behind an apparently impoverished lifestyle, even receiving handouts from a charitable organisation.

Officers were able to track two lorries carrying more than 3.5 million pills as they were driven to Sharjah.

A spokesman said the drugs were intended to be sent on to another Arab country after being cleared by Customs at Jebel Ali Port.

Pule 2, a member of the force for seven years, sniffed through 200 containers to find the illicit haul.

'Operation Fridge' catches criminals cold

An elaborate plot to smuggle 123 kilograms of crystal meth from Asia to Dubai in a refrigerated shipping container was foiled by police in November.

A crime gang stashed the haul in the bottom of a container designed to transport fruit and vegetables.

Police set up Operation Fridge after receiving a tip-off about the plan and lay in wait as the carefully-constructed criminal plot unfolded.

A local trader – unaware drugs were hidden inside – collected and unloaded his shipment of fruit and vegetables at his market before placing what he believed to be an empty container in a sandy yard for parking and queuing containers.

Undercover officers kept the area under surveillance, awaiting the arrival of gang members to collect the shipment, before swooping on the unsuspecting criminals.

Cyber crime campaign shut down

Dozens of cyber fraudsters who set up fake dating profiles and posed as recruitment agents to cheat people out of cash were arrested in July.

The Dubai force apprehended 47 members of 20 gangs accused of a raft of offences, including social-media scams, extortion and robbery, as part of a major operation called Shadow.

All of the 37 men and 10 women arrested were from countries in Africa.

Many of the suspects had rented flats using forged IDs in an attempt to evade justice. But police tracked down the criminal groups in Dubai and another emirate, which was not disclosed.

Some offences involved crooks creating fake dating profiles of women to set up meetings with unsuspecting men.

Updated: December 28, 2020 12:08 PM

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