Police arrested eight Maldivians with illegal narcotics and more than MVR140,000 (US$9,000) and US$11,000 in cash from a residence in Malé yesterday.
In addition to the drugs and cash seized after searching Maafanu Zillion with a court warrant, police discovered a caged slow loris. The importation and sale of the endangered primate species is illegal in the country.
The house was searched based on information of a “wide drug network” obtained by police drug intelligence.
Yesterday’s raid followed a similar operation earlier in the month, in which a 23-year-old suspected of supplying illegal drugs was arrested – also in Maafanu ward. Official statistics reveal drug-related offences reported to police had risen by 84 percent between 2012 and 2013.
The suspects taken into custody yesterday included three men aged 20, 24 and 53 as well as three women aged 19, 35 and 47.
The Criminal Court today extended the remand detention of the 20-year-old man and 35-year-old woman to 15 days and granted a three-day extension for the remaining four suspects.
According to the police Drug Enforcement Department (DED), the street value of the drugs seized from Maafanu Zillion was more than MVR200,000 (US$12,970).
The drugs were found in five small film canisters and a large rubber packet.
Among other items confiscated from M. Zillion – located near the Maafanu police station – included four sex toys, empty bottles of alcohol, walkie talkies of the Kenwood brand used at construction sites, 39 cans of beer and equipment used for packing drugs.
The search operation conducted jointly by the DED, drug intelligence department and the Specialist Operations (SO) command concluded at 5:30pm on Monday.
The case is currently investigation by the DED and the Criminal Investigation Department.
Police further revealed that the 47-year-old woman had previously been convicted for drug trafficking and sentenced to 25 years in prison. She was however transferred to house arrest on December 6, 2008 due to poor health.
Local daily Haveeru reported today that the woman was convicted in late 2007 for assisting her son – who was in grade nine at the time – to buy and sell drugs.
The conviction was upheld by the High Court in 2012 following an appeal on the grounds that the woman suffered from a mental illness.
During an interview with Minivan News this month, Home Minister Umar Naseer said that the main target of his ministry for the next five years would be to curb drug-related crimes.
Naseer said that he intended to give high priority to enhancing the customs services in order to stop illegal drugs and other contraband from being smuggled in to the country. He also said that the police intelligence department was being expanded.
Speaking about reducing drug-related crimes, Naseer said that he would focus more on major drug dealers, rather than those further down the criminal hierarchy.
The home minister also pledged to find ways to enforce Maldivian law on drug lords living overseas who were allegedly involved in the drug trafficking in the Maldives.