Record heroin seizure in the UAE 

19 August 2008 - Police in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week seized 202 kg of heroin and arrested 19 Afghan suspects in what is the biggest-ever heroin seizure in the Arab world. The police said the high-purity heroin, worth around US$11 million, was intercepted in the Emirate of Sharjah, where the suspects ran a fruit and vegetable business as a cover. The narcotics were smuggled in modified fuel tanks of trucks imported into the UAE. The Afghans were making arrangements to ship the drugs for sale outside the country.

"This is a spectacular success for the law enforcement authorities," said Mohamed Abdul-Aziz, UNODC Representative for the Middle East and North Africa. "Devious as the traffickers were, the police were always one step ahead. I congratulate the Sharjah and Dubai police for their cooperation, daring and professionalism."

The Afghans were arrested in separate raids by the Sharjah and Dubai Police anti-narcotic departments. Careful undercover operations led them to smash the ring after they acted on a tip-off that the men were packaging, processing and stockpiling drugs in their warehouses and dealing on a massive scale. Forensic tests revealed that the heroin had been mixed with other substances in order to increase its potency and fetch a higher market price.

Since 2001, UNODC has been offering technical assistance to Dubai police in the field of drug control and drug law enforcement. Under a UNODC project, some of Dubai's officers received training in advanced drug law enforcement surveillance and intelligence-led policing. The training has improved their search techniques, data analysis, covert operations, and intelligence gathering. "Obviously the training is paying off," said Mr. Abdul-Aziz. General Dhahi Khalfan, Commander of Dubai police, also praised the partnership between his forces and UNODC.

The officers have also trained their law enforcement colleagues in the UAE and Iraq. Graduate officers are passing on the knowledge and skills that they have learned through this UNODC programme, Mr. Abdul-Aziz explained, and there is potential for more peer to peer training.