Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Customs inspectors foiled thousands of attempts to smuggle illegal substances into the UAE during the first half of 2016, officials said on Monday.
According to the latest customs figures, as many as 7,224 seizures were recorded by customs authorities during the period — an increase of 12.3 per cent over the 6,435 cases in the first half of 2015.
These involved attempts to smuggle illicit drugs, counterfeit goods, alcohol and other drugs requiring prescription, as well as cases involving illegal immigrants, commercial fraud and money smuggling — all which represented the bulk of the work by customs officials, a new customs report reveals.
The Mezyad Customs Centre recorded the largest number of foiled attempts during the first half of 2016, with authorities confiscating 1,801 illegal substances. It was followed by the Al Ain Central Post Office Customs Centre which foiled 1,367 attempts to smuggle in illicit substances and the Abu Dhabi Central Post Office Customs Centre which foiled 1,045 attempts.
Mohammad Khadem Al Hameli, acting Director-General of the General Administration of Customs-Abu Dhabi, said the agency “continuously seeks to cooperate with different entities to enhance the customs work on the level of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The administration also works on further developing inspection procedures by adopting the latest [technological] advancements, and providing the necessary training to raise the performance of customs inspectors in their role to protect the homeland and citizens from any risks of illegal trade.”
Abu Dhabi customs officials thwarted 299 attempts to smuggle illicit drugs weighing 12,974 grams. More than 2.14 million narcotic pills and substances, including 5,027 identified as tramadol and more than 2.12 million as captagon, were also confiscated.
Among the seized contraband were poppy seeds, spice, Shabu (crystal methamphetamine) as well as other narcotic substances and restricted drugs, the report stated.
Most smuggling attempts were recorded at the Abu Dhabi International Airport Customs Centre, where 231 smuggling attempts were thwarted by authorities.
In one case, a 54-year-old Arab woman arriving from an Asian country was caught in possession of 3,200 narcotic pills hidden in her purse at Abu Dhabi International Airport. In another case at Abu Dhabi International, a 19-year-old Asian traveller entering the country was summoned for inspection and found in possession of 2,490 narcotic pills hidden in his luggage.
Inspectors at the airport also foiled an attempt by a 26-year-old Asian traveller who was caught with a box of sweets in his handbag filled with more than one kilogram of poppy seeds.
In a different case, a 29-year-old Arab passenger was found with 369 narcotic pills, 119 capsules of a restricted drug and 1.55 grams of Shabu, in addition to drug paraphernalia.
Abu Dhabi customs officials also thwarted 76 attempts to smuggle in alcohol, with authorities confiscating more than 278 bottles and boxes of alcohol, with the largest haul also recorded at the airport as well.
There were five counterfeit attempts foiled by Abu Dhabi Customs. These included two attempts to smuggle counterfeit drugs through the Abu Dhabi Central Post Office Customs Centre, one attempt to smuggle counterfeit money through the customs centre at Abu Dhabi International and an attempt to smuggle 3,168 counterfeit perfumes through the Al Ghuwaifat Customs Centre.
In the case of counterfeit perfumes, customs inspectors flagged a truck coming into the emirate that was driven by a 25-year-old Asian. Upon inspection, the truck was found to be carrying 33 packages containing 3,168 boxes of counterfeit perfume brands.
Customs centres in Abu Dhabi also recorded 728 tobacco-smuggling attempts, which included 11 cases of cigarette smuggling and 717 of tobacco smuggling. The Al Ain land customs centres recorded the largest number of tobacco-smuggling attempts.
Abu Dhabi Customs thwarted 1,088 attempts to smuggle in drugs that can only be prescribed by a medical practitioner, as well as expired drugs and drugs greater than the quantity authorised. Most of the attempts occurred through the Abu Dhabi Central Post Office Customs Centre where 551 attempts were recorded.
One of the most important smuggling attempts occurred at Abu Dhabi International, when inspectors flagged an envelope sent through a courier company to a woman from an Arab country living in the UAE. Inspectors seized 200 pills of tramadol and 756 other narcotic pills.
Abu Dhabi Customs foiled 32 money-smuggling attempts, with 10 attempts recorded by the Khatm Al Shikla Customs Centre and Mezyad Customs Centre each, six attempts by the Abu Dhabi International Airport Customs Centre and five by Al Ghuwaifat Customs Centre.
The most significant money-smuggling attempt occurred when customs inspectors at Abu Dhabi International became suspicious of a traveller arriving from an Asian country and summoned him for inspection. The 36-year-old Asian traveller was found in possession of $50,000 (Dh183,650) that was hidden inside a metal box in his hand luggage.
Abu Dhabi Customs officials also thwarted 25 attempts, involving 28 people of different nationalities, to enter or leave the country illegally in the first half of 2016. Al Ghuwaifat Customs Centre recorded the largest number of cases at 11.
Up to 135 attempts of commercial fraud, including the non-disclosure of goods, as well as the manipulation of product weights and country of origin certificates, invoices, details and container numbers were foiled by Abu Dhabi Customs. Al Ghuwaifat Customs Centre recorded the largest number of cases at 62, followed by Khatm Al Shikla Customs Centre with 47.