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.


First batch of Faaragema dogs arrive in Maldives

Five of the 16 sniffer dogs for the newly established “Faaragema” dog squad arrived in the Maldives last night.

According to the Maldives Police Services, a Dutch and a British dog trainer accompanied the first batch of dogs and will train police officers in handling the dogs.

The dogs were due to arrive the previous night, but their arrival was delayed after the handlers deemed the journey from the Netherlands was too long for the puppies. They were then quarantined in Malaysia.

Faaragema dog squad

Five more puppies will arrive tonight and the remaining six are to arrive tomorrow night.

The dogs were brought in to tackle drug trafficking in the Maldives, and are going to be kept in custom made kennels at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

Speaking to local media, Home Ministry’s spokersperson Thazmeel Abdul Samad said that the dogs and the kennel had cost the government US$ 80,000.

The Home Ministry has meanwhile requested the Dhivehi Language Academy to come up with 16 Dhivehi names for the puppies.


Dog kennels set up at Hulhulé Airport

Dog kennel

The Maldives Airports Company Pvt Ltd has completed a dog kennel to house 16 sniffer dogs at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) on Hulhulé Island.

MACL Managing Director Adil Moosa presented a ceremonial key to the compound to Home Minister Umar Naseer and Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed on Tuesday.

“In addition to countering illicit drugs, the sniffer dogs are also capable of identifying explosives and forged bank notes. Training them in this regard will help the police in fighting crime,” Naseer said at the ceremony.

The compound – measuring 240 by 93 feet – would house the 16 dogs and contains two bathing facilities. The first dogs are to arrive on March 23, and includes puppies.


Advance payment of €40,000 for police dog squad

The Maldives government has made a €40,000 (US$50,000) advance payment to a Netherlands-based company for the delivery of a dog squad to combat drug trafficking.

A police media statement explained that the payment was made to the Dutch company yesterday which is to be called ‘Faara Gema’.

Police also announced employment opportunities working at the ‘Faara Gema’ dog squad kennel which is to be located in Hulhumalé.

Police give the utmost importance and high priority towards fighting against drug use and trafficking and also establishing the ‘Faara Gema’ dog squad, read the press statement.

While speaking at a press conference last week, Police Drug Enforcement Department head, Chief Inspector Ahmed Shifan revealed plans to use the dog squad in the atolls during special operations, but refused to provide any further details.

Minister of Home Affairs, Umaru Naseer flew to the Netherlands in June to finalise arrangements for the dogs, which the ministry has said will first be transported to Sri Lanka.

“The dogs will be trained in Sri Lanka for three months. After that the Maldivian police team will travel to Sri Lanka and train with the dogs for another three months and the dogs will be brought to the Maldives for the first time to form the squad,” explained media officer Thazmeel Abdul Samad.

A total of 15 police officers are to be given training to work with the animals, local media have reported.

The Maldives has previously employed dogs for drugs and security, with the most recent example being the use of dogs for security operations at the 2011 SAARC Summit in Addu City. On that occasion, the dogs were handled by a special Sri Lankan task force.

In October 2002 two sniffer dogs were brought to the Maldives from Sri Lanka, and were used at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport under the supervision of National Security Service – and later the Maldives National Defence Force.

In 2008, the chair of the parliamentary committee on narcotics, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said that no drugs were ever confiscated with the help of the two dogs. The committee’s investigations found that the dogs were in fact unable to recognize drugs, said Solih.

The home minister has pledged to focus his efforts on the battle against drugs while in office, noting that illegal narcotics were overloading the criminal justice system and fuelling gang crime.

He has identified stricter control of the country’s borders, a crack down on large-scale drug dealers, and rehabilitation of drug users as the key ways in which to tackle the problem.

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