Police have arrested an individual suspected of being one of the Maldives’ most high-profile drug dealers after spending several months collecting information about his procedures for importing narcotics into the country.
The Head of the police’s Drug Enforcement Department (DED), Superintendent Mohamed Jinah, told members of the press that the alleged drug lord was arrested Friday (June 24), along with several companions also suspected of involvement in supplying drugs.
Jinah identified the suspected dealer as Ibrahim ‘Shafa’ Shafaz, 30, of Lonumidhi in Maafannu ward.
Details of three of his companions – also suspected of involvement in the drug ring – were also revealed. Jinah identified them as Ismail Shameem, 30, of Thaa Atoll Thimarafushi, Hussein Atheek, 27, of Fehi in Maafannu ward and Hussein Athif, 25, of Kudhehige in Maafannu ward.
Jinah claimed that Shafaz has been suspected of importing drugs to the Maldives since 2005, with police having since labelled him as one of the country’s most high profile drug traffickers.
About 896 grams of illegal drugs were said to have been discovered inside his apartment following a police raid of the premises on Friday. The apartment, which was rented in a building belonging to MP ‘Redwave’ Ahmed Saleem, contained a number of tools that could be used to pack drugs, while powdered narcotics were also found.
According to police, Ismail Shameem’s alleged role in the network was to distribute the drugs in small packets – originally bought in kilograms -while Hussein Atheek is suspected of transferring money to the network in Sri Lanka.
Hussein Athif is suspected by police of playing the most important role in the whole network by communicating with an agent in Sri Lanka in order to safely traffic drugs to the Maldives.
Jinah said the traffickers have been using an authorised money exchange company called A J Amporium to send funds to Sri Lanka, while another company named MC Galleria is alleged to have been receiving the money.
The drugs are believed to have been imported via Sri Lankan Airlines, though Jinah said these three companies were not suspected of being knowingly involved in the drug trafficking.
He said between February to April of this year, Rf1.3 million of drugs were trafficked in to the Maldives by this network.
Jinah claimed Shafaz had last year bought a shop named ‘Charm’ for Rf150,000 (US$9700) that was sold this month for Rf200,000.
Shafaz is also believed to rent three apartments in Male’, with one property having been rented for 21 years for Rf300,000.
He also owns a tailor shop which he bought for Rf200,000 (US$13,000) for 15 years, a shop in Kaafu Atoll Maafushi, a Suzuki Swift car for Rf180,000 (US$11,673), later sold for Rf170,000.
Jinah said a special DED operation to try and seize the suspect began in 2009 with significant cooperation from the Prosecutor General and Criminal Court.
Speaking from his office this morning, President Mohamed Nasheed said that police were now looking to investigate the exact methods of money transfer thought to have been used by the alleged drug dealers.
Nasheed claimed this morning that even if the investigation ended up being linked to his mother and father, he would not step back in fulfilling his pledge to clamp down on the drug trade.