Dubai Customs inspectors at Dubai International Airport foiled an attempt of smuggling 5.2kg of heroin, stuffed in 477 capsules hidden inside guts of 7 Asians passengers, in what is known as "the Relatives Gang" job, where a kinship brings the seven passengers together. Divided into two flights, they coordinated to finish baggage search formalities at different times, some of which at shift change intervals, in a hopeless attempt to mislead the Customs inspectors; nevertheless, the Customs inspectors were vigilant, proving once more to be impenetrable to whomever thinks they could make the most out of Dubai's location and facilities offered to visitors and residents at Customs ports.
The seizure is considered to be the biggest gut arrest in the history of Dubai's airports, taking place at terminal 2, where the sense of loyalty, the high sense of security and alertness of Dubai Customs inspectors to innovative means of smuggling, that smugglers never seem to cease developing, enabled them to foil such an attempt.
H.E. Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director of Dubai Customs said: “This seizure proved the experience and efficiency, the ability to link and analyze information, and high alerted sense of security of Customs inspectors, where the seven passengers pulled several tricks, starting with booking more than a flight from their home countries; focusing on the adequate time of arrival: being an airport peak arrival time, and at an inspector shift swap time; thinking it would help accelerate their Customs procedures and slip away from the airport with the narcotics hidden in their guts.”
He further explained that there is a mechanism concerning dealing with suspect passengers following the seizure, in coordination and cooperation with strategic governmental partners, particularly Dubai Anti-Narcotics Department, to which the suspects along with the contrabands and the seizure investigation reports are transferred for further investigations and necessary legal actions.
Mr. Ahmad Abdullah Bin Lahej, Director of Passenger Operations Department at Dubai Customs uncovered the details of the case beginning on the 25th of October at Dubai International Airport- Terminal 2, when Customs inspectors suspected four Asian passengers arriving on a flight from their home country, en route to Customs area. No sooner had the passengers showed signs of nervousness that roving, monitoring, control and passenger inspection teams coordinated to closely monitor the suspected passengers. The moment the first passenger stepped out, he was transferred along with his baggage to be searched, and nothing suspicious was found during the machine and the manual search of the luggage, then the passenger was examined by the body scan machine which detected some strange items inside his guts. When asked about the nature of these items, he admitted to swallowing drug-stuffed capsules, where (50) capsules were recovered from his guts at the airport and the hospital to which he was transferred later on. Upon following up on the rest of the suspects, a few minutes later, the second suspect came out, where inspectors had been waiting for him. Procedures taken against the first suspect were performed against the second one, (30) capsules were taken out of him.
Through Customs investigation and follow up on suspects, resemblance was established as well as kinship, making inspectors more suspicious of the identity of the other two passengers arriving on the same flight. A close monitoring of their suspicious movements was conducted, noting the time intervals between the suspects when heading to the exit gates, similar to what happened to the first two suspects. Nothing suspicious was found during the manual search of their handbags, but when the third suspect was examined by the body scan machine, murky items were detected inside his guts. Later on, 68 capsules were taken out of him, while 50 capsules were removed from the fourth passenger’s body.
An instantaneous plan at Terminal 2 to address any smuggling attempts
Mr. Bin Lahej further explained that a miniature meeting was immediately held among the Terminal officials for all the Departments taking shifts during which a shift swap takes place in order to develop a plan, observe the situation, analyze data and information and take the timely adequate decision, in order to apprehend a fifth passenger arriving on the same flight, waiting at the transit area for the shift swap time to flee while inspectors are busy swapping shifts, not knowing that they are waiting for him. After the suspect was examined by the body scan machine, the detector showed strange substances inside his body and two drug-stuffed capsules were taken out of him.
Bin Lahej affirmed that the arrest of 5 Asian passengers on flight hiding heroin inside their guts would only lead to more scrutiny and search for other suspected passengers. He also talked about the implemented intelligent targeting system at the passenger operations Department, analyzing information and tracing the routes of the flights, through communicating with the airliners and the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs-Dubai, accessing information, dates and times of arrival to the country. Based on the accurate information of the work team at Terminal 2, the Department officials, the team leaders, the division managers and the inspectors; an important discovery was made. Another two passengers, linked to the five passengers, were arriving to the country on a different flight, so a close surveillance was ordered against them.
Suspicions of the Customs inspectors were affirmed, and through the followed legal Customs procedures, 33 heroin-stuffed capsules were taken out of the first suspect and 40 were taken out of the second, amounting to a total of 477 capsules, weighing 5.2kg of heroin, all recovered from the guts of the seven passengers at the airport and the hospital to which they were transferred.
He further added that all seven passengers were carrying 2014 recently issued passports, and trained to make the most use of Custom inspector shift change at Terminal 2. The exploitation of drug dealers to some of their relatives to facilitate the smuggling and coordination among them was also discovered. All the detainees were sponsored by the same company, and they waited at the transit area for no reason, monitoring the inspectors remotely, waiting for the right moment to execute their malicious plan, he said.