A sniffer dog has located 300 grams of heroin in the Maldives’ first drug raid involving dogs.
The police, with the dog’s help, managed to recover two packets of what they say was a major stash of drugs at a private residence in Malé on Saturday night, after suspects flushed an unknown quantity of illegal drugs down the toilet.
Superintendent of police Ahmed Shifan said the drug bust was “a major green light that sniffer dogs can help resolve the Maldives’ drug problem.”
Police estimate the street value of confiscated heroin at MVR600,000 (US$39,063). A 26-year-old from Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo was arrested from Carnation Lodge.
Dogs are illegal in the Maldives for religious reasons, but home minister Umar Naseer last month brought in 16 puppies from the Netherlands to tackle the Maldives’ entrenched drug abuse and trafficking problem.
Local media reported a woman at the scene fainted on seeing the dog, but police say they believe the woman had fainted after seeing the narcotics at her home.
“These are false reports, we believe she fainted after the drugs were discovered, not because she saw the dogs,” Shifan said.
He said the police will not use the dogs to incite fear among the public.
The dog squad reportedly cost the government US$40,000. Custom-made kennels have been established at the airport, and the government has brought in British and Dutch trainers to train police officers on working with the dogs.
Naseer has meanwhile tasked the language academy with naming the 16 puppies. The academy last month invented a new Dhivehi word for the dog squad, ‘faaregema.’
Police were only authorised to use sniffer dogs in operations on Thursday. Shifan said the dogs will also be used to detect counterfeit money.
Last year, the police confiscated 44 kilograms of drugs in 31 nation-wide operations.