Heroin and crystal meth seized in UAE's largest drug bust

Dubai Police say 365kgs worth an estimated Dh278 million was discovered

A Dubai Customs inspector uses a special canine unit to search for drugs in an unloaded shipment in Jebel Ali Port in Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National
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Hundreds of kilos of heroin, crystal meth and hash have been seized in what Dubai Police described as the country's largest drug bust to date.

Drugs worth an estimated Dh278 million were recovered in an operation that led to 16 arrests.

Police said the probe spanned across Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain and Interpol were involved at one stage.

Two criminal groups were monitored during an investigation spanning months.

“Their attempts to distribute the drugs inside our community have been foiled,” said Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, head of Dubai Police.

“This is the largest registered seizure of narcotics in this country."

Police would not state the nationalities of the men, describing them only as Asians.

The suspects - may of whom worked as cleaners and maintenance workers as cover - hid the drugs inside spare car parts and stored them in warehouses.

Police said a number of countries were involved in exchanging information and that the data analysis centre at Dubai Police played a major role in analysing data data and predicting suspects' movements.

Colonel Khaled bin Muweiza, deputy head of anti-narcotics, said round-the-clock surveillance ran for nearly three months towards the end of last year.

“The boss of this group of six men lived as a cleaner and was in direct contact with a drug lord in his home country,” he said.

Five of this group were arrested on January 26 near their home in Sharjah.

“Two of them were receiving a suitcase with 4.2kg of heroin inside of it at the time of arrest,” he said.

The sixth suspect was arrested at Sharjah International Airport trying to flee the country.

A second related gang of ten suspects in Sharjah were found with more than 240kg of drugs.

The men are expected to appear in court in the coming months.

Officials said that the drugs were specifically intended for sale in the UAE and aimed at young people.