Sniffer dogs locate drugs at Maafushi jail

The police drug enforcement department and the Maldives correctional services conducted a joint operation in Maafushi jail yesterday using sniffer dogs to locate drugs.

Tuesday’s 14-hour operation was the first time dogs were used to search a Maldivian prison.

Superintendent Ahmed Shifan, head of the drug enforcement department, told the press today that the dogs located 25 rubber packets containing hash oil and five packets containing heroin.

A large number of mobile phones, SIM cards and chargers was also confiscated from the cells, Shifan said.

He added that police are working with the correctional service to prevent the entry of drugs and phones to the high security prison. Prison guards have previously been caught smuggling drugs for inmates.

The correctional services had also confiscated 200 packets of illicit narcotics during a search operation in November last year.

Home minister Umar Naseer brought in 16 puppies from the Netherlands in March to tackle the Maldives’ entrenched drug abuse and trafficking problem.

The dog squad or ‘K9 unit’ 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.


Police seize 2kg of hash oil

Police have arrested three men and a woman with about 2kg of hash oil after searching two residences in Malé.

The drug intelligence and drug enforcement departments raided two houses in the Maafanu ward of the capital with search warrants in the early hours of Monday (October 6).

The Criminal Court subsequently granted a five-day extension of remand detention for the four suspects. Police revealed that the male suspects were aged 31, 34, and 37 and the female suspect was 20 years of age.


All 79 suspects arrested from Anbaraa festival tested positive for drugs, police reveal

All 79 suspects taken into police custody from the island of Anbaraa in Vaavu atoll tested positive for drugs, police have revealed.

Briefing the press today, Chief Inspector Abdulla Satheeh explained that police received intelligence information suggesting that alcohol and drugs were being used and sold at the two-day music festival held on the uninhabited island.

Police raided the island with a court order at midnight on Friday night (April 18), he noted.

The Drug Enforcement Department, Specialist Operations, police intelligence department, and the forensic department conducted the operation, Satheeh said.

Upon searching the island as well as the 198 partygoers, Satheeh said police discovered different types of drugs and more than MVR90,000 (US$5,836) in cash.

In addition to beer cans, the drugs confiscated from the island included pills, LSD stickers, and hash oil joints as well as rubber packets, cellophane packets, and film canisters containing cannabis, Satheeh said.

The drugs, beer cans, and cash were displayed in a video presentation at the press briefing.

While all 198 persons on the island were held and searched, the chief inspector noted that the 79 individuals were arrested after drugs were found either in their possession or at the scene.

Police revealed earlier that the 79 suspects included one female minor, 19 women and 59 men, including one foreign male.

While the remaining 119 were released without charge, Satheeh revealed that none of them were tested for drug use.

Arrangements were not in place to conduct drug tests on the island, he added.

The 79 persons taken into custody were arrested either with drugs in their possession or because police suspected they were under the influence of drugs, Satheeh noted.

Contrary to media reports claiming that a number of people were naked, Satheeh said individuals of both genders were “wearing revealing clothing” when police raided the island.

Asked about the organisers of the festival and lease holder of the uninhabited island, Satheeh said he could not disclose further details as the initial stage of the investigation.


Police raid Masodige, arrest 18 in drug bust

Sixteen men and two women were arrested yesterday in a drug bust with over MVR100,00 (US$6,485) in cash and 31 rubber packets containing illicit narcotics.

Police raided Galolhu Masodige with a search warrant around 9:00am based on intelligence information suggesting that drugs were being sold from the house. The special operation was conducted jointly by the drug enforcement department (DED) and police intelligence.

According to the DED officer in charge of the operation, equipment used to pack drugs was also confiscated from Masodige.

Of the 18 suspects taken into custody, police said a 22-year-old man and 50-year-old woman were actively involved in drug trafficking.

The male suspect had a criminal record for drug trafficking and gang violence, police revealed.

The other 16 suspects – aged between 22 and 58 – were believed to have been in the house to purchase drugs at the time of the raid.

A 26-year-old woman among the suspects had been convicted on multiple charges of theft in 2010 and 2011, police said.

Police claimed the 16 suspects were under the influence of drugs at the time of their arrest and that all 16 had criminal records for drug-related offences.

The Criminal Court meanwhile granted a seven-day extension of detention for all 18 suspects when they were brought before a judge at 7:00pm last night. The case is currently under investigation by the DED.

On January 20, 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.

In an interview with Minivan News in January, Home Minister Umar Naseer said that the main target of his ministry for the next five years would be curbing drug-related crimes.

Naseer said that he intended to give a 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.

“Leaving aside abusers and peddlers, the focus of this front will be on major wholesale drug dealers. We will investigate how drugs are brought into the country, find the contacts abroad, find ways to locate and take action against those involved even if they are abroad,” he said.


Convicted drug kingpin leaves for Sri Lanka

The ringleader of a nationwide drug network convicted and jailed in November departed to Sri Lanka last night, ostensibly for medical treatment, local media has learned.

Ibrahim Shafaz Abdul Razzaq, 32, of Maafanu Lonumidhilige, was sentenced to 18 years in prison and fined MVR75,000 (US$4,860) after being found guilty of drug trafficking.

According to newspaper Haveeru, the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) was not informed of a date for the inmate’s return. Shafaz was not accompanied by an MCS officer, the local daily reported.

Opposition-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV reported that a “reliable source” claimed Shafaz was not listed in the immigration control system as a convict when he boarded the midnight flight with his family.

Raajje TV also alleged that Shafaz was allowed to leave the country on orders from Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.

Responding to the allegation, Adeeb told Minivan News today that as tourism minister he did not have “a say in the decisions by the independent institution formed by the law called Maldives Correctional Service.”

“Raajje TV is a very irresponsible media directing all the allegations towards me politically,” the deputy leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) said.

MCS officials could not be reached for comment today.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz was meanwhile unable to confirm for Raajje TV whether Shafaz was among 24 convicts whose sentences were commuted by President Abdulla Yameen last month.

President Yameen commuted the sentences of persons banished, serving jail sentences or under house arrest “with conditions.”

In the final days of his administration, former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan also commuted the sentences of 35 convicts under authority granted by the Clemency Act.

Individuals convicted of murder, terrorism, a crime with a punishment (hadd) prescribed in Islamic Shariah, disturbing the peace – including attacking or threatening a security officer or vandalising public property – child abuse, rape, homosexuality, and drug trafficking involving an amount more than four grams were not eligible for clemency, the President’s Office said last month.

Details of the convicts, the conditions for granting clemency and the reduced sentences were not disclosed on either occasion.

Article 115 of the constitution states that the president has the authority “to grant pardons or reductions of sentence as provided by law, to persons convicted of a criminal offence who have no further right of appeal.”

“Operation Challenge”

Shafaz was arrested on June 24, 2011 with 896 grams of heroin from a rented apartment in a building owned by PPM MP Ahmed ‘Redwave’ Saleem.

Former head of the Drug Enforcement Department (DED), Superintendent Mohamed Jinah, told the press at the time that police raided Henveiru Fashan based on intelligence information gathered in the two-year long “Operation Challenge.”

Jihah labeled Shafaz a high-profile drug dealer suspected of smuggling and supplying drugs since 2006.

The traffickers had been using an authorised money exchanger called A J Emporium to transfer funds to Sri Lanka, Jinah revealed.

The drugs were believed to have been smuggled via Sri Lankan Airlines.

Jinah claimed that the network smuggled drugs worth MVR1.3 million (US$84,306) to the Maldives between February and April 2011.

Police also discovered that Shafaz had bought a shop named ‘Charm’ for MVR150,000 (US$9700) that was sold in June 2011 for MVR200,000 (US$12,970).

Moreover, Shafaz was renting three apartments in Male’ and owned a tailor shop bought for MVR200,000 (US$13,000), a shop in Kaafu Atoll Maafushi, and a Suzuki Swift car worth MVR180,000 (US$11,673), later sold for MVR170,000 (US$11,025).

As Shafaz was not in the room with the drugs at the time of the raid and his fingerprints were not found on the confiscated drugs, the Criminal Court ruled last year that there was not enough evidence to convict Shafaz on one count of the drug charges.

However, he was found guilty on the second count based on recorded phone conversations and financial transactions with a contact in Colombo, believed to be the supplier.

Three of Shafaz’s accomplices who were caught with the opiates and packing equipment – Ismail Shaheem, Mohamed Meead and Anas Anees – were meanwhile found guilty of possession and trafficking and sentenced to ten years in prison.

In a speech a few days after the drug bust, former President Mohamed Nasheed said he found it “quite shocking [that] 800 packets of heroin a night were getting sealed in the house of an honourable member of parliament.”


Police bust major drug trafficking network

The Maldives Police Services have busted a major drug trafficking network, arresting two Maldivian men with large amounts of illicit drugs and cash, local media has reported.

Under a court warrant, the police’s Drug Enforcement Department raided Henveiru Fahaage in Malé City and apprehended a network of drug-traffickers.

The police told local media it is raiding additional places reported to have links with the network and have arrested several expatriates.

Further information on the amount of drugs confiscated and the number of arrests will be revealed at a later date, the police said.


Three arrested following seizure of over 100 bottles of alcohol

The Maldives Police Service has arrested three people on suspicion of smuggling over 100 bottles of alcohol into Male’ on a local boat (dhoni), local media has reported.

The arrests were made after the police Drug Enforcement Department seized the alcohol shipment – mostly thought to consist of bottles of whisky – from a dhoni that  arrived in the capital yesterday (May 17).

According to Sun Online, the dhoni was suspected of being used to transport the alcohol from a safari boat that was later raided by police.

Two Maldivian nationals aged 42 and 23 were reportedly arrested during the raid. A 22 year-old foreigner was also taken into custody in connection to the seized alcohol.

Investigations are presently continuing, Sun Online has reported.


Two men arrested with 325 bottles of alcohol

Police have arrested two men found to be in possession of 325 bottles of alcohol in Male’ on Thursday afternoon.

According to the Maldives Police Service, the two men were arrested as part of a joint operation conducted by the Police Intelligence and Drug Enforcement Department (DED).

Police confirmed to local media that a Bangladeshi and Maldivian national were arrested as part of the operation.

Police said the Maldivian suspected was 34 years-old, while the Bangladeshi man was 22 years-old.  No further details on the suspects were provided.

Meanwhile in Addu City, police have also announced the arrest of six men and a minor with MVR 53,000 (US$3430) and illegal narcotics.

The arrests, which were made on Tuesday (January 22), formed part of a wider on-going operation called ‘Our Peaceful Addu City’, which was commenced by police to try and reduce crimes rates in the area.

“The six men were arrested at about 10:50 pm on January 22 during a raid on Thamannaa House in Addu City,” police said in a statement, adding that the raid was made following intelligence reports.

When police searched the house, officers discovered nine bullet-sized packets containing illegal narcotics, another 13 small packets of illegal drugs and a 500ml bottle containing home-made alcohol.

According to police, a sum of money totalling MVR 53,538, a laptop and a projector all suspected to have been stolen were also discovered inside the building at the time.


Police fire head of Drug Enforcement Department

Former Head of the Police Drug Enforcement Department (DED), Mohamed Jinah, was relieved of police duty last Thursday January 10.

Speaking to Minivan News, Jinah said police had called him and informed him that he had been dismissed from police.

‘’They did not tell me why the decision was made, but they said they will send me documents containing information as to why I have been dismissed,’’ Jinah said. ‘’I don’t have much to say before I get the documents.’’

Jinah said he has not yet decided to file the matter in court.

‘’I will make a decision after I receive the documents clarifying why I was dismissed,’’ he added.

After the controversial transfer of power in February, Jinah was demoted to Chief Inspector of Police from his position as Police Chief Superintendent.

Jinah was the Head of the Drug Enforce Department (DED), but following February 7 was changed to the police planning department.

Jinah, former Chief Superintendent ‘MC’ Mohamed Hameed, former Superintendent Ibrahim Adnan Anees and Superintendent ‘Lady’ Ibrahim Manik were among a few senior officer who did not join a police revolt against the government on February 7, that led to the resignation of then President Mohamed Nasheed.

With the dismissal of Jinah, almost all senior police officers who did not take to the streets demanding Nasheed’s resignation on February 7 have now been dismissed.

On August 8 last year, the Police Disciplinary Board decided to relieve Chief Superintendent ‘MC’ Mohamed Hameed and Superintendent Ibrahim Adnan of duty.

Superintendent ‘Lady’ Ibrahim Manik was also demoted to Chief Inspector of Police, and the disciplinary badge on his uniform was removed.

Adhnan Anees, Ibrahim Manik and Mohamed Jinah were among senior officers allegedly assaulted by ordinary officers on February 7.

Video footage available on Youtube shows the former head of the Drug Enforcement Departmen being handcuffed and taken to the detention island Dhoonidhoo on the morning of February 7.

On June 14, police arrested Chief Superintendent Hameed following his contribution to the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s report into the controversial transfer of power on February 7.

According to the MDP’s report, the attacks were carried out by police officers outside police headquarters on the instructions of Police Superintendent Abdulla Nawaz and Sub-Inspector Azeem Waheed.

The report stated that Corporal Ahmed Vikram ‘Viki’ hit Superintendent Anees with a wooden chair in the back, and struck Anees in the genitals with his leg.

Anees was then taken upstairs to the third floor of police headquarters and locked inside the DED’s storage room, along with Deputy Commissioner Ismail Atheef and Superintendent Ibrahim Manik, the report claimed.

According to the report, mutinying police officers subsequently broke open the door of the storage room and again attacked the three senior officers, before taking them downstairs.