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Dubai the Drug Hub

Dubai police reports a sharp rise in drug smuggling arrests.

Drug smugglers have taken advantage of Dubai’s strategic location and international trade to make the city a major transit center for global drug smuggling, local police have claimed.

Police and customs officials in the United Arab Emirates say new statistics show the country’s economic powerhouse has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people arrested and charged on drug related crimes.  

“Traffickers use the modern and accessible facilities in the emirate, such as the airports and ports, trying to move narcotics from their home countries to their destinations,” General Abdul Jalil Mahdi, director of Dubai Police’s anti-narcotics department told The National, an Emirates-based newspaper.

According to the police data there was an increase of 39 percent in the number of drug arrests in 2009 when compared with the previous year. So far in 2010 close to 500 people have been arrested and 172 pounds of narcotics have been confiscated.

Police say an increasingly popular method of drug smuggling is the use of mules or curriers, who travel to Dubai, stay in the city for a day or two and then purchase a ticket to their final destination so as to hide their tracks and make it difficult for the authorities at their final destination.
“What we have experienced over the last few years is an increase in the importance of Gulf countries for drug trafficking purposes,” Thomas Pietschmann, a Research Officer with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, told The Media Line. “It has been an issue of taboo in many countries but the data clearly shows an upwards [trend].”

Since 2007 the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime have been working to establish the Gulf Centre for Criminal Intelligence, which will serve as a joint operations center for law enforcement from the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

While the center is not yet up and running, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is setting up a regional office in Dubai which it hopes will be operational within the next two weeks.

Analysts say that the United Arab Emirates strategic location on the crossroads between major drug producing centers such as Afghanistan, where much of the worlds opium is grown and heroin is produced, and the markets in Europe, make it an ideal hub for drug smuggling.

Even drugs such as cocaine smuggled from South America to Europe have increasingly been smuggled via the Emirates.