The Maldives Police Services have deported two Pakistanis detained in connection to a 24 kg heroin drug bust citing insufficient evidence.
The two were the last of the eleven Pakistani nationals arrested from an Iranian boat in what the police claim to be the largest drug haul from a police operation in the country’s history.
Four Maldivians and three Bangladeshis were also arrested, but only five of the eighteen remain in custody. Six of the nine Iranians were released on the orders of the Criminal Court.
Of the three Bangladeshi nationals who were arrested from the boat, two were released by the Criminal Court on June 24. Only one remains under police custody.
All four Maldivians, including a police officer, remain in custody. Two have been transferred to house arrest, one due to ill health. The police have said the suspect had earlier suffered burns to 45 percent of his body in a fire accident. Two of the Maldivians arrested have previous records drugs related crimes, police has said.
The police have declined to reveal details of the suspects.
The street value of the drugs is estimated to be worth MVR 100 million (USD 6.5 million).
The police in March described the 24 kg heroin seize as one of the toughest operations in its history.
A sixteen member police team was involved in monitoring the movements of a local boat called “Violet” between March 4 and 10. The boat met Iran’s Hormuz at a rendezvous point 30 nautical miles outside the Maldives Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on March 10. Hormuz had set sail from Iran’s Chahbahar seaport.
A small dinghy was offloaded from Hormuz onto Violet. When Violet reached Hulhumalé, the two local smugglers boarded the dinghy and were arrested from the island’s lagoon that night. The remaining arrests were made the next day on March 11.
The four locals arrested include the two primary smugglers, captain of Violet, and a police officer who used a local money transfer service to send money to an Iranian agent
Hormuz was caught seven nautical miles outside the Maldives’ EEZ.
In a very detailed account of the operation, police said they listened to phone conversations between the two suspected local smugglers and their Iranian counterpart and followed them police for several days.
A 46 member team comprising of the intelligence and drug enforcement department were involved in the operation, police have said.