Sword shipment destined for ‘Picasso Choice’ toyshop, reveals Customs

Maldives Customs Services today revealed the name of the company responsible for importing a shipment of swords and realistic-looking toy firearms.

According to customs, 260 ‘Airsoft’ pellet guns, five ornamental swords and 12 sling shots were imported to a toy shop Male’ called ‘Picasso Choice’.

Minivan News attempted to contact the owner of Picasso Choice, but the shop attendant said he did not know about the shipment and declined to give the owner’s number, identifying him only as ‘Ibrahim’.

Shortly afterwards, the same shopkeeper rang back to pass on a message from the owner, stating that as the media had not contacted him regarding the shipment until today, he did not wish to comment.

Yesterday Maldives Customs Spokesperson Ibrahim Mohamed revealed that the shipments of swords and toy guns were imported in the name of a company that was owned by a “prominent businessman”.

Customs inspectors initially discovered the swords on July 29. Later, during further inspection of the same shipment, inspectors discovered the toy guns and sling shots customs officers observed were “much more powerful” than normal toy guns.

Two men were also arrested recently at immigration after arriving from Colombo with nine black face masks and a stun gun in their luggage.

A statement issued by the customs identified the two men as Ali Nihad Mohamed, 20, of Joothyge in Galolhu district Male’, and Ahmed Farish, 25,of Konottaa also in Galolhu district.

The stun gun and five face masks were found inside the baggage of Nihad and four black masks were found in the baggage of Farish, customs stated.


Customs seizes shipment of 260 toy guns

Maldives Customs Service last night seized 260 toy guns and handed them over to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) for investigation.

Spokesperson for the Maldives Customs Service Ismail Nashid said the shipment was imported to the Maldives from Thailand and the items were classified as toys.

“We are trying to determine whether these guns could potentially be used for other purposes, even though they have been shipped as ‘toys’,’’ said Nashid. ‘’After the investigation sn concluded we will hold a joint press meeting with the media and reveal details.”

The ship was a commercial cargo ship, which was loaded in Thailand, he said.

He said the guns were now under the observation MNDF.

Spokesperson for MNDF Major Abdul Raheem said MNDF had determined that the guns were toys.

“We are yet to find out how dangerous these guns are and in what other ways they could be used,’’ said Abdul Raheem. ‘’We can only provide information about the case after the investigation is concluded.’’

Maldives Customs recently intercepted five three-foot double-edged swords inside a container imported to Maldives from China.

Spokesperson for Maldives Ports Limited (MPL), Hassan Muzni Mohamed, said the swords were discovered during an inspection by customs officers.

The ship that carried the container, ‘MOL KOMATI’, was loaded in China and stopped at a port in Singapore prior arriving in the Maldives.


Imports decreased in 2009

Maldives Customs have announced that imports to the country have reduced by 34% over the last year, Miadhu reports.

Total imports for 2008 were Rf16 billion while in the 2009 total was down to Rf11 billion.

Aggregate rock, corrugated tin, fruits and vegetables all showed significant levels of decrease, customs said.


Customs cage budgie smuggler

A man who tried to smuggle almost 40 live birds and more than 100 eggs into the Maldives has had his cargo seized by customs.

Customs discovered the birds after searching the Maldivian national’s luggage at Male’ International Airport, after he arrived from Bangkok on 20 December. In total there were 109 eggs and 39 birds, nine of them dead, customs officers said.

The birds are now in possession of the Agricultural Ministry’s plant and quarantine unit, which confirmed that most of the birds were canaries and budgerigars.

The birds and eggs were being readied for transportation to Thilafushi to be euthanised, the unit said.

Ali Rilwaan, head of environmental NGO Bluepeace, said the procedure for a situation like this was to determine the birds’ species and ascertain if they were wild.

“Normally these kind of birds are kept as pets, and if there are no health risks I see no reason for the birds to be killed this way,” Rilwaan said.

“For generations, Maldivians have kept birds as pets, and since the introduction of species such canaries and budgies as pets over the last ten years there has been less exploitation of local species,” Rilwaan continued.

Since the spread of bird flu the importing of pet species has been banned, however chicks and ducklings are still brought into the country in large numbers.

According to the plant and quarantine unit, there are no plans to find new homes for the birds and they will be destroyed.


Drugs found in air freighted vegetables

Customs authorities have seized narcotics packed into vegetable cases on a cargo flight from India on 6 December.

Two cases of vegetables had the drugs attached to the sides. One of the cases contained 1.04 kg of cannabis and the other contained 0.7 kg of heroine.

Police said they have arrested a man in connection with the crime, Ali Ashlah Rashaadh, who has previous drug convictions.