Police arrests drug lord during special operation

Police have this morning conducted a special operation, raiding the house of an individual alleged to have been supplying the illegal drugs trade in the Maldives.

The police issued a statement today revealing that the operation was conducted this morning at about 8:20am, with officers raiding the premises of Woodpecker house in Maafannu ward – the home of the alleged drug lord.

According to police 500 grams of suspected illegal drugs were found inside the house.

Police did not reveal the identity of the suspect arrested in the case, but stated that he was 23 years old and involved in a wide network of drug business in the Maldives.

Official statistics reveal drug-related offences reported to police had risen by 84 percent between 2012 and 2013.

On December 5, police searched the premises of Henveiru Fahaageaage after obtaining a search warrant, on suspicion that the house was related to a local drug network operating in Male’.

During the operation police discovered drugs and money inside the house.

Police said that persons believed to be involved in the network were apprehended inside the house during the operation.

According to police, a total of four persons have been arrested in connection with the case including a Pakistani and a Sri Lankan national.

At the time, police said that more places involved in the drug network were being searched.

No further details of the operation were provided in the statement, though it was said that further details will be divulged later.

Yesterday, police told local newspapers that a special operation had been conducted in Male’ to reduce criminal activities conducted by gangs operating inside cinamale’ flat area and its surroundings – discovering four knives and suspected illegal drugs.

The raid was reported to have followed numerous complaint from residents. Police dismantled huts and bird cages inside the premises that had been built without permission from Male’ City Council, on suspicion that these areas may have been used by the gang members to store drugs.

During an interview with Minivan News last week, Home Minister Umar Naseer said that the main targets of his ministry for the next five years would be to curb the drug-related crimes occurring in the country.

Umar Naseer said that due to the increase in drug related offenses the criminal justice system has been overloaded – as had the work of police and customs.

He told Minivan News that the main cause of this overload was the increase in drugs being smuggled and the amount of drug abusers and peddlers.

Naseer said that he intended to give high priority to enhancing the customs services in order to stop illegal drugs and other contraband from being brought in to the country.

Speaking about reducing drug-related crimes, he said that he would focus more on major drug dealers, rather than those further down the criminal hierarchy.

The home minister also pledged to find ways to enforce Maldivian law on the drug lords abroad who are involved in the drug trafficking cases occurring in the Maldives.

According to Naseer, the police intelligence department has been widened by training more intelligence officers


US foots bill for better water on “climate-resilient islands”

The United States Government will provide US$7.1 million towards an integrated water resource system on Lhaviyani Hinnavaru and Haa alif Dhihdhoo islands, a project with an estimated total cost of US$7.5 million.

Ground water aquifers on these islands have deteriorated, and residents are experiencing water shortages due to salt water intrusion and poor sanitation practices.

“Funds from this project will prevent water shortages and ensure clean groundwater, reduce coastal erosion, improve sanitation and provide safe drinking water,” said US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Patricia Butenis, at a press conference held in the President’s Office today. “The people on the island will also receive training to take over the management and training of these projects.”

In addition to pooling all major water resources on the islands, the plan aims to strengthen institutional water distribution capacity and governance, particularly during dry spells.

In the dry seasons of 2009 and 2010, the Maldivian government supplied desalinated water to over 90 islands at a cost of Rf10 million. The average cost of this service is expected to rise with fuel prices.

Both islands have approximate populations of 4000. The Government of Maldives hopes to uphold the two islands as models of “climate-resilient islands.”

US Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with the Ministry of Housing and Environment, island councils and residents, and provincial utility companies to develop the household water distribution network.

The project, which is part of US President Barak Obama’s Global Climate Change Initiative, will improve clean water circulation, sewage systems, and waste management services. Project workers will also educate island residents on managing coastal erosion, land use, and the marine environment.

Lhaviyani Hinnavaru and Haa alif Dhihdhoo islands received assistance from USAID following the 2004 tsunami, which crippled much of the Maldives. A sewerage system was introduced on Dhidhoo and Hinnavaru received a desalinated water system.

“Climate change becomes a serious issue for us because of its implication on water, among other reasons,” said President Mohamed Nasheed, and the press conference today. “The water table is contaminated by salt water intrusion from sea level rise. We must find other solutions, and this is a substantial grant for our adaptation work.”

At the same time, Nasheed said, “we have to be able to stand on our own feet. We have to tax our economy and fend for ourselves. We are a middle income country and it is not always ethical to ask for donations while there are so many others who are much poorer.”


Group claims ‘2000 strong’ protest against Dhiraagu over privacy and latency concerns

A group of Maldivians calling themselves “Firaagu’’, led by Firaagu Mohamed, have scheduled a protest against the first network service provider in the Maldives, Dhiraagu (Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun), claiming to have “many issues” with the company.

Protest organiser Firaagu Mohamed claimed that more than 2000 people have said they would join the protest.

“We are expecting 3000 to join us on the day of protest, January 1. We will launch a website and a hotline this month so that everyone joining can discuss and disclose more information about the protest,’’ said Firaagu.

Protesters will gather at Jumhoory Maidhaan and will march towards Dhiraagu Head Office in Medhuziyarai Magu, Firaagu said, claiming the group would also be distributing T-Shirts.

Firaagu, who claims to have obtained information concerning matters of privacy and latency from a whistleblower inside the company, say they will present their allegations in the lead up to the protest.

“We do not want our every move sniffed and monitored. And do not give us false messages when we try and call somebody by saying ‘The number you are calling is switched off’,” he alleged.

Outside the resorts, the country’s telecom providers are among the most marketed and media savvy organisations in the country, and desired employers among many young people.

Spokesperson for Dhiraagu Mohamed Mirshan yesterday told Minivan News that Dhiraagu had not received any information regarding the planned ‘Firaagu’ event officially.

”If anyone had any issues concerning Dhiraagu, they could always contact us,” Mirshan said. ”we are always easily accessible,” Mirshan said.

”Expressing peoples views on large companies through social network is very common in the Maldives as well as in other countries,”

Mirshan said if the protest was organised by a genuine person he would have contacted Dhiraagu before deciding to launch a protest.

“I have also seen the page on Facebook, and its credibility looks doubtful,” he added.

Dhiraagu is one of the only two network service providers in the Maldives, and has been providing telecom services for 22 years.