Customs make largest drug bust of 2009

Maldives Customs Service has intercepted over five kilograms of the drug ketamine at Male’ International Airport in the country’s largest drug bust this year.

Director of Intelligence and Special Operations Abdul Rasheed Ibrahim said the drugs were found in the luggage of an Indian national, Abdullrasulhan Abdulmukthalif, concealed inside a cardboard box with a hidden compartment.

Customs officers noticed irregularities when they scanned the box, and discovered 29 packets of suspected narcotics, carefully wrapped in polythene.

Lab tests confirmed the substance as 5.09kg of ketamine with trace amounts of cocaine, Ibrahim said, the first recorded case of ketamine being illegally brought into the country.

Ketamine is commonly used as a dissociative anesthetic in both humans and animals. Although a regulated drug, it is widely used as an illegal recreational narcotic.

Abdulmukthalif was travelling on Sri Lankan flight UL507 travelled to Male’ on the 15 December from Chennai via Trivandrum and Colombo.

Customs officers said Abdulmukthalif’s itinerary revealed that his final destination was Jakarta, a trip he had made four separate times, and each time he allegedly took a cardboard box on behalf of a friend from Chennai.

Ibrahim said although the street value of the drugs was Rf 6.5 million, he did believe the final destination of the drugs was the Maldives.

This was the 12th incident of illegal narcotics transportation this year discovered by customs officials, he said, adding that the total seized now stood at 12.56 kilograms (a combined street value of Rf 11 million).