Tramadol haul worth Dh1b seized

Customs find 1,695 boxes filled with 91m pills inside six containers in Jebel Ali port

The Tramadol consignment confiscated by Dubai Customs inspectors
Image Credit: Courtesy: Dubai Customs
The Tramadol consignment confiscated by Dubai Customs inspectors. ‘This is one of the biggest attempt to smuggle drugs into Dubai,’ a senior official said.
Gulf News

Dubai: Customs foiled an attempt to smuggle 91 million Tramadol tablets estimated to cost around Dh1 billion, according to a senior official.

The drug, which cannot be purchased without a medical prescription, is widely used by young people in other countries in the region.

“These kinds of drugs are restricted so they have to get the approval of other parties. What this company did was to list the goods as cosmetics as they know that cosmetics don't need approval. They falsified the customs declaration.”
-Saeed Ahmad Al Tayer, senior director of Jebel Ali Cargo Operations Department
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Dubai Customs inspectors seized the drug hidden in 1,695 boxes inside six containers — forty foot containers and twenty foot containers — at Jebel Ali Port and Jebel Ali Free Zone. The containers came from an Asian country through different navigation lines.

"This is one of the biggest attempts to smuggle drugs into Dubai," Saeed Ahmad Al Tayer, senior director of Jebel Ali Cargo Operations Department, told Gulf News.

"These kinds of drugs are restricted so they have to get the approval of other parties. What this company did was to list the goods as cosmetics as they know that cosmetics don't need approval. They falsified the customs declaration," he added.

Al Tayer said that they tracked the activities of the suspected company operating at Jebel Ali Free Zone. According to Dubai Customs' e-Clearance System, the suspected company had imported huge amounts of cosmetics and medical instruments by sea from an Asian country to Jebel Ali port.

Upon close examination, the contraband did not conform to the description in the customs declaration which said that the goods inside the containers were cosmetics and medical instruments.

Customs inspectors then resealed the cartons and decided to seize the contraband.

The Ministry of Health examined samples of the drug and found it was listed as a prohibited opiate which is not permitted for use without a medical prescription. The drug is under restricted control.

Breathing difficulties

Using this drug without a medical prescription may lead to addiction; its effects are similar to cocaine. Overdosing may endanger life and result in heart attack and then death. Other ill effects include breathing difficulties, drowsiness, dizziness, a rash, tingling, sleeping, coma, an uncontrollable shaking of the body, nausea and hallucinations. Other symptoms of an overdose also include decreased size of the pupil, vomiting and chills.

The importing company violated customs regulations including articles under Federal Law No 4-1983 (The Pharmaceutical Professions and Institutions Contents). An official report from the Health Ministry also said that the importing company was a trading company and was not licensed to import pharmaceuticals. The company also did not have a prior permit to import or store the drug. The report likewise said that the way the drug was stored was not in compliance with local and international specifications.

Officials noted that the large amount of drugs was intended for trading purposes and not for medical use.