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.


Police alleged to have used tear gas in Masodige raid

The mother of a man who was arrested in a police raid on Galolhu Masodige on Friday night has claimed that officers threw a two tear gas canisters into a house containing a three month old child and a five year old girl.

Fahmeedha Shakeeb alleged police entered the building without a court warrant to arrest her son, Ihusaanudheen Rasheed, for alleged assault of a 23 year old man.

”The police force arrived at Masodige to arrest my son and broke into the house,” she claimed. “My son asked them whether they had a court warrant to enter the house, but they said they did not so my son asked them to leave the house if they did not have a warrant.”

Shakeeb claimed police officers then threw a tear gas canister into the building despite her protestations that there were women and small children in the building.

“My son came downstairs and surrendered himself to the police. [During the fighting afterwards] the officers attacked him and his friends who were inside the house, using batons and pepper spray inside the house,” she said. “After he was taken outside the house along with his friends who were also arrested, an officer threw another tear gas canister into the house which affected my three month old grandchild, a five year old girl and their mother.”

She claimed the baby was already in a critical medical condition after being born prematurely, and had to be taken to the hospital after the incident.

”The five year-old also had breathing difficulties, she vomited that night and the police actions had caused her to suffer distress, imagine what it would be like to a child to see a police force armed with batons,” she said.

Shakeeb alleged that police had a “personal grudge” against Ihusan after he resigned from the police force.

Police have previously raided the property in relation to stabbing incidents in Male’, and in June last year knocked down the exterior wall after allegedly discovering a cache of weapons.

”We have been raided police for more than once, but what can we do, because we are poor people nobody cares, the police do whatever they want to do,” Shakeeb claimed. “I did not say anything to the police, but all I said was that they cannot enter the house if they did not have a court warrant.”

Shakeeb claimed that last time police arrived at the house to arrest her son she tried to clarify what happened and when she questioned a police officer she was pushed to the ground.

”After that I don’t go near police officers who come to raid our house, they will do whatever they want and we cannot do anything,” she claimed.

She also alleged that the police officers used foul language in front of the children, and that one of the officers referred to her as ”Nagoobalha” .

A witness to the raid also told Minivan News that police threw tear gas canisters into the house while the children were inside.

”A Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Councillor carried the baby to his house, and a Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officer passing by also stopped by and told the police that they should not do that, he was in MNDF official uniform,” the witness said.

”That happened near my house and I was there too, I saw injured people being dragged out of Masodige and thrown into a police vehicle,” he said.

Another person familiar with the matter told Minivan News that a police officer who was a close friend of Masodi gang phoned him while Ihusan was taken to Dhoonidhoo on a police speed boat, and alleged that police were about to give Ihusan an electric shock “to control him”.

”The police officer later told me that he fainted on the boat after the electric shock and was taken to hospital,” the person alleged.

A police source told Minivan News that the use of electricity to subdue Ihusan was “definitely not true” as there were no such electrical devices available to officers.

The source said that officers were called to the scene to “rescue” a 23-year-old man who was being attacked, allegedly by members of the Masodi gang. The three officers were attacked on arrival, and called for reinforcements. The reinforcements were also attacked, and resorted to using tear gas.

The police source could not confirm that tear gas had been used.

In addition, the source said that it was not necessary to have a court order to enter a property in such a situation, “as police are well within their right to use force when attacked.”

The source said no reports of a woman or child being affected by the raid had been received, but if there were any involved who wished to file a complaint could approach a number of services, including the Police Integrity Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

Twelve individuals were arrested during in the raid, including three minors. The source said the minors might have been associated with the Masodi gang.

The source also told Minivan News that three police officers were injured in the raid, and that one officer was subsequently sent abroad for medical treatment.

Head of the Police Integrity Commission Shahindha Ismail told Minivan News that the commission had received no complaints regarding the raid. The family affected said they had no intention to make a complaint.


Masked police officers destroy wall of house in Male’, block media

A squad of police officers yesterday destroyed the outer wall of Galolhu Masodige during a special operation.

The police squad, with their faces  covered with black masks, and demolished the outer wall of Masodige making part of the house visible to people walking down the street.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that police special operation was conducted in relation to the multiple stabbings that occurred in Male’.

He said that two men were arrested yesterday from Masodige.

”Police found sharp objects and weapons that could potentially used for assault and battery when police checked Masodige,” Shiyam said. ”We are checking several places in order to find people who violated laws and to find weapons used in assault.”

Police forced a Minivan News journalist out of the area and disallowed photos to be taken.

Photo: ‘The Day the Wall of Masodi Town Fell Down…’ by Hilath Rasheed