Resort workers dismissed on drug abuse charges were ‘key unionists’

Four resort workers were dismissed on June 6 from Alif Alif Atoll Kandholu resort on bogus drug abuse charges because of their work on a petition demanding a minimum wage, the Tourism Employees Association of the Madives (TEAM) has said.

“All four of the dismissed staff were key figures in gaining signatures for the TEAM petition. The resort wanted to dismiss them with any excuse they could find,” said the organization’s secretary general Mauroof Zaki.

The TEAM petition – signed by more than 5000 Maldivian resort workers – demands a US$600 minimum wage, the implementation of an eight percent quota for Maldivians in the resort sector and the equal distribution of service charge to all employees.

Police raided Kandholhu resort – owned by Universal Enterprises – after the management complained of staff using drugs on the island.

A police spokesperson said the four were taken to Rasdhoo Island for a urine test. Two of the staff tested positive on a drug screening. But the police said they were released the next day because the substance they had used was not illegal.

The dismissed staff told Minivan News they were using medication.

Speaking to Minivan News, 21-year-old Ibrahim Sameen said he was “targeted by the management for working with TEAM to gain signatures for the petition.”

“The police started checking our belongings and doing body checks of the people singled out by the management. They checked me and said I was clear of any problems,” he said.

Resident manager Ahmed Jaleel told Sameen to accompany the police to Rasdhoo.

“I immediately asked Jaleel whether he would re-instate my position at the resort if I was did not test positive and he promised me and gave his word.”

When the drug test came out negative, Sameen said he was taken to Kuramathi resort, also owned by Universal Enterprises, and informed of his dismissal.

The letter of termination obtained by Minivan News, accused Sameen of gross misconduct for appearing as if he was not his “full senses” and “disrupting the peave in the resort.”

The letter was signed by Jaleel.

Jaleel told Minivan News that he had did not made any promises to reinstate staff and said he was not aware of their work gaining signatures for the petition.

Meanwhile, a staff at the human resources department refused to comment and said: “the decision to terminate the staff came from the top management.”

Jaleel and the Kandholhu general manager were not responding to further calls despite repeated attempts.

Over the past few years, resort workers have occasionally tried to launch protests.

Workers who had been fired from Sheraton’s Maldives luxury resort for allegedly demanding union recognition protested near the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort and Spa in February, according to the website of the International Union Federation.

Carrying banners with slogans such as “Sheraton fully booked — no room for human rights”, the dismissed workers carried out a boat picket around the resort, while employees came to the beach and waved in support.

Three staff at Palm Beach were dismissed in July 2014 after 50 staff staged a strike over alleged discriminatory polices at the resort.

In February 2013, an employee strike in Vaavu Atoll Alimathaa resort resulted in 27 employees being fired by management.


Man caught with 13 bullets of drugs in anal cavity

A 19-year-old man was arrested at the airport with 13 bullets of drugs concealed in his anal cavity.

The police stopped him at the Ibrahim Nasir International Aiprort (INIA) on an intelligence tip-off. The bullets were noticed after doing an x-ray. The man has been remanded for 15 days.

Meanwhile, the criminal court has today sentenced a 27-year-old man to ten years in prison for drug trafficking. Hussein Nahulaan Abdul Gayoom was caught with 0.5grams of illegal drugs in June 2014.

He was also handed a MVR50,000 (US$3,225) fine.


Two men arrested with 1kg of hash oil

Two Maldivian men were arrested with 1kg of hash oil last night.

The pair, aged 20 and 22, were taken into custody around 9:05pm in an operation conducted by the police intelligence and drug enforcement departments.

The arrests were made based on intelligence information suggesting that the pair were smuggling and selling drugs in Malé.

Police officers followed the 22-year-old on his motorbike and arrested him near the Imperial Clinic on Lonuziyairah Magu. The bags containing the drugs were found in his possession.

The 20-year-old suspect was arrested in connection with the case.


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.


Sniffer dog locates 300 grams of heroin in first raid

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.


Police arrest two minors, two men in drug bust

Police arrested two minors and two men with illicit narcotics in a five-hour operation conducted in Malé on Thursday night (February 19) by the Drug Enforcement Department (DED).

Based on intelligence information suggesting that drugs were being used and sold at Henveiru Zaa, police raided the guesthouse with a search warrant and arrested a 15-year-old male and 17-year-old female with 50 grams of drugs.

Police later arrested an 18-year-old male believed to have provided the drugs to the pair of minors. He was taken into custody from the street with six rubber packets containing drugs in his possession. Police found a further 10 packets in the vicinity.

All three suspects were Maldivians with police records.

The last suspect, a 28-year-old Bangladeshi man who is believed to have been the source of the drugs, was arrested with 50 grams of drugs in his possession.

Upon searching the Bangladeshi man’s room and belongings, police discovered a further 1 kilogram and 300 grams of drugs.

Police revealed that the 17-year-old girl had previously been stopped and searched five times on suspicion of drug use. The 15-year-old boy had been taken into custody three times, stopped and searched 12 times, and penalised four times for traffic violations.

The 18-year-old man had been stopped and searched 27 times and penalised for traffic violations.


Police starts investigating case of dead body found at a Villimalé home

The Maldives Police Services has started investigating the case of a dead body found in a Villimalé home yesterday (January 27).

A police press statement read that they have started investigating a case of a 38-year-old dead man found at V. Hevaa yesterday at around 5.35pm.

The statement said that, upon receiving information of a man having collapsed, police arrived on scene and took the man to the health center, where doctors confirmed that he was dead.

An investigation team from the police’s serious and organised crime department found items believed to be drugs and syringes at the scene, read the statement.


Police arrest 9 individuals on drug possession charges in 48 hours

Police have detained nine individuals on suspicion of possessing illegal narcotics within the past 48 hours.

Three men were arrested on Monday (January 12) – two in Hulhumalé and one in Dhaalu Meedhoo, a further two men were taken in on Tuesday in Kudahuvadhoo and Villimalé, while four more were apprehended in Malé and Haa Alif Hoarafushi – two from each island.

All but one of the men, a Bangladeshi, were Maldivian and two – one from Hulhumalé and one from Hoarafushi – were minors.

A total of 74 packets thought to contain illegal substances were confiscated during the police’s investigations.

Last year saw the number of drug-related crimes reported to police fall by 20 percent, while home minister Umar Naseer has pledged to prioritise the fight against drug dealers, who he has noted have attempted to infiltrate police ranks.

After visiting the Netherlands in June to finalise arrangements for a dog squad to assist in the police’s anti-drug operations, the dogs are expected to be used in operations in the Maldives after having been trained in Sri Lanka.

Home affairs officials told media yesterday the kennels for the Faara Gema team of 16 dogs – based on the airport island of Hulhulé – were due to be finished next month.


Two arrested for attempting to smuggle 8 bottles of alcohol into Malé

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has arrested two individuals who were attempting to smuggle eight bottles of alcohol into Malé from Hulhumalé.

A police statement said that both were Bangladeshi nationals who were trying to smuggle the bottles by hiding them under the seat of a motorcycle which was to be transported to Malé via ferry.

Hulhumalé police officers searched their vehicle after they had been observed behaving suspiciously near the ferry terminal. The case is being investigated by the Hulhumalé police station and the MPS drug enforcement department.

The run up to New Year’s eve saw a large amount of alcohol confiscated in the Malé area, with police reporting seven individuals taken into custody in a period of two days at the end of December in Hulhumalé.

Police also confiscated 70 bottles of liquor and 70 cans of beer with a street value of MVR200,000 (US12,970) from Faamudheyrige in Maafannu ward in Malé.