Sharjah: Authorities here have foiled an attempt to smuggle 22 people into the UAE by hiding them inside a concrete mixing transport truck.

Customs officials at the Khatam-Maliha border in Kalba, Sharjah, arrested an Asian driver after he attempted to smuggle 21 men and a woman, inside a cement mixer into the UAE.

The attempt was foiled last week when the driver arrived at the border from a neighbouring country, said authorities. A high-tech X-ray scanner that can "see" helped the authorities foil the attempted human smuggling.

A police official told Gulf News: “When customs officials saw them inside the cement mixer at the X-ray scanner, they were stunned.

"The driver of the vehicle was asked to open the top cover of the mixer and officials asked the persons inside to come out one by one.”

Police called in

Officers from the Kalba police station were called to the scene to secure the place and supervise the operation.

The suspects — Asians and one African woman — have been taken into police custody.

The case has been referred to the public prosecution for further action.  

“The customs employees foiled the human smuggling attempt … these persons exposed themselves to danger by hiding inside the mixer, hoping to evade the customs checkpoint,” the official said. 

The operation was carried out by the Federal Customs Authority and the Sharjah Ports Authority.

Ali Bin Sabeeh Al Kaabi, chairman of the Federal Customs Authority, said the foiling of the human smuggling attempt reflects the high level of coordination between the federal and local customs officials who exchange information about such activities promptly. 

It also showed the vigilance maintained by Customs officers and observers at checkpoints and their keenness to protect the borders and preserve the security of UAE society.

Al Kaabi said the federal authority had issued alerts to all local Customs departments regarding the methods used by people to enter the country illegally or smuggle goods in.