Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed has told customs that police are spending as much time confiscating illegal animals as they are seizing drugs.
Waheed yesterday (16 March) met with Commissioner General of Customs Ahmed Mohamed and a delegation of senior customs official to discuss the increase in illegal animals being discovered during recent drug operations.
Commissioner Waheed told customs officials that in the past two weeks police have discovered illegal animals during special operations conducted to raid drug networks.
An illegal snake was also found on the streets on Male last week.
A police statement reported that Waheed told officials that citizens were now in constant fear, noting that the police do not have any role in the airports and other ports.
He also said that police now needed to conduct as many operations to confiscate illegal and dangerous animals as to curb drug related crimes.
Waheed requested that customs increase monitoring for illegal animals and also to increase people’s awareness on the issue.
He recommended customs issue an announcement calling for the surrender all such animals that anyone has to the customs department.
Customs officials – who have already promised to tighten regulations – told police that customs needed to increase screening and that those types of animals were smuggled in to the country after careful planning.
Customs officials also told police that the department currently has established procedures where bags and luggage of cargo boats crew members can be searched.
Officials noted, however, that not being able to give adequate punishment to people involved in this type of crime was an obstacle in curbing them.
Earlier this month police discovered a royal python – a nonvenomous snake commonly kept as a pet – following a drugs raid in Himmafushi, Kaafu atoll, on March 4.
In a separate raid on March 7 police also confiscated a Kingsnake and a Mexican red-kneed tarantula from a house in Malé.
A slow loris was also discovered by police in a drugs raid in Malé in Januray 21. The species’ decline in numbers has been closely attributed to their unsustainable trade as exotic pets.