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Picture for illustrative purposes: dealers are targeting youths via social media because they are spending more time online during the pandemic say police Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Drug dealers are setting online traps for youngsters in the UAE as many of them spending more time online during the coronavirus pandemic, a senior cop said on Tuesday.

With the closing of 10 social media accounts promoting drugs in Dubai this year, Lieutenant General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Commander-In-Chief of Dubai Police, said that parents are a key factor to protecting their children.

“We should be all united in the society to fight against drug abuse. Parents are responsible and can establish a positive bond with their teenage children and monitor them to protect them from bad friends and online criminals,” Lt Gen Al Merri said.

Lt General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri
Lieutenant General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Commander-In-Chief of Dubai Police Image Credit: Supplied

“Criminals are tracking and targeting teenagers more than before as they spend more time online during coronavirus pandemic.”

He said that Dubai Police spotted 14 accounts promoting drugs between 2017 and 2019, and the E-Crime platform spotted 10 accounts this year until the end of May.

The accounts were promoting drugs on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook.

“There was an account of a drug dealer with 1,600 followers. It has one video for illegal substances with a delivery option. We arrested the dealer, despite the fact he was being so careful to hide,” Lt Gen Al Merri added.

Another account was for an Asian man who was outside the country. He used to ask the teenagers to transfer money to get drugs but disappear after the transaction.

Dubai Police’s warning to parents came in line with the department’s celebration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26.

Lt General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and Public Security in Dubai, said that this year celebration will be during the pandemic challenge.

“Despite the new challenge, we kept developing the ability of our officers in the UAE to discover new criminal styles that drug dealers invent, especially as there are restrictions amid COVID-19 like closing airports and borders to curb the virus,” Lt Gen Tamim said.

With the establishing of the Anti-Narcotic Council in 2016, a national strategy was implemented across the country which helped to achieve great results and foil many drug operation.

Lt Gen Tamim praised the role of anti-narcotic officers and other government departments in aiding to fight drug abuse.