Hard to swal­low

Po­lice say seizures of il­le­gal painkillers are surg­ing as smug­glers try to take ad­van­tage of re­gional un­rest

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Ali Al Shouk @alial­shouk

A se­nior Dubai po­lice of­fi­cer is warn­ing of a “wor­ry­ing” boom in the il­le­gal drugs trade, with seizures of banned painkillers more than dou­bling in the past year.

Dubai Po­lice con­fis­cated 65.4 mil­lion il­le­gal pills in 2015, up from 24.5 mil­lion in 2014.

Colonel Eid Thani Hareb, Di­rec­tor of Anti­Nar­cotics De­part­ment, said tra­madol, which taken in ex­cess gives the user a high, was the most com­mon drug seized.

He said: “We’ve seen a 166 per cent in­crease [in seizures of] il­le­gal painkillers and the amount of drugs over­all is up nearly 60 per cent - it’s a big in­crease.

“The drug prob­lem is wor­ry­ing and it has be­come worse be­cause of the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in many Mid­dle East­ern coun­tries… it’s be­come easy to pro­duce and smug­gle.”

He said tra­madol is the most com­mon drug found for that rea­son, adding: “Il­le­gal painkillers are easy to con­sume, just like any pills. They don’t need spe­cial tools for con­sump­tion.”

Tra­madol is only avail­able in the UAE on pre­scrip­tion, as is the case in many other coun­tries.

The anti-nar­cotics chief said smug­glers are get­ting more in­ven­tive with how they hide their stash, with of­fi­cers last year find­ing drugs hid­den in­side in­dus­trial pipes, fur­ni­ture, cloth­ing, baby toys and cos­metic prod­ucts.

But he said one rea­son for the rise in the amount of nar­cotics seized is that po­lice are get­ting bet­ter at un­cov­er­ing drugs.

Hareb said: “Our of­fi­cers learn more skills ev­ery day through train­ing and are see­ing new ways that drugs are be­ing smug­gled. “This is why we are ar­rest­ing more deal­ers and why the amount of drugs seized is ris­ing.” Dubai Po­lice said that they ar­rested 80 “big deal­ers” last year, with 1,377 drug cases recorded and 1,864 sus­pects ar­rested. This was up from 1,267 cases and 1,667 sus­pects in 2014. Poppy seeds, which can be used to make opi­ates, was the sec­ond most com­mon drug seized, at 177kg. Co­caine was next, with 163kg seized fol­lowed by heroin (99kg). But Hareb said that there is a fo­cus on tra­madol, which he said can “open the path to ad­dic­tion”. He said of­fi­cers re­cently ar­rested teenagers un­der 18 for pos­sess­ing and tak­ing tra­madol. He said: “We are run­ning cam­paigns and vis­it­ing schools to ed­u­cate pupils about il­le­gal painkillers, to un­der­stand they are il­le­gal and can open the path to ad­dic­tion.” “Parental neg­li­gence and kids be­ing left with maids all the time is the main rea­son be­hind drug ad­dic­tion… par­ents must be re­spon­si­ble, they mon­i­tor their chil­dren,” Hareb added.

ON THE RISE: Po­lice say il­le­gal painkillers in­clud­ing tra­madol are easy to pro­duce and con­sume. Inset, sus­pects busted with five mil­lion pills

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.