Dubai: Dubai Police arrested two men as part of a multi-agency operation that led to the seizure of 1.5 tonnes of cocaine worth around Dh1.5 billion and eleven arrests in the UK, Spain and Dubai.
Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Dubai Police Chief, said one of the two men arrested in Dubai on December 1, was the mastermind behind the operation.
The drugs, he said were smuggled from Colombia to Spain, where it was going to be processed in a lab.
He said that Lt. General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior closely followed the operation, due to it’s importance.
According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), which provided the intelligence for the operation, a container was seized in Valencia, Spain, in which the drugs were disguised as sacks of charcoal on wooden pallets.
Forensics revealed that the pallets were made of compressed cocaine powder made to look like wood, and some of the sacks contained cocaine disguised as charcoal.
Al Maziena said all the arrests were coordinated across all countries.
Four of the arrests were made in the UK, Five in Spain and two in Dubai. The men arrested in the UK and Dubai, were all UK nationals.
The NCA said they arrested a 44-year-old at Liverpool Airport, along with a 54-year-old and a 50 year-old in a car park, while Merseyside Police arrested a 46-year-old at an address in Liverpool.
Dubai Police’s Anti-Narcotic Department arrested L. R. A, 39, and his assistant, 38, at a luxury apartment in Dubai.
Another five men, two Colombians, two Peruvians and a Spaniard were arrested on December 3 by the Spanish National Police, the NCA said in a statement.
Maj Gen Al Mazeina said L.R.A. was under their scrutiny since 2013, as they suspected him of drug-related crimes in his country, but there was no solid evidence to link him to any of the crimes.
The suspect would frequent Dubai a lot and spend long periods of time here, but he did not carry out any of his operations in Dubai.
“This is a great achievement for the Ministry of Interior. Lt General Shaikh Saif received a letter of thanks from the NCA for it’s role in the operation,” he said.
When L. R. A and his partner were arrested, Dubai Police seized mobile phones and documents that linked them to the 1.5 tonnes shipments, as well as to money laundering operations.
The two men are currently in Dubai Police custody awaiting extradition.
'Ruthless and dangerous'
One of the men arrested in Dubai on December 1 was considered to be “one of the most ruthless and dangerous drug smugglers in the world,” said Major General Al Mazeina.
L. R. A, 39, was regarded as the mastermind of a drug smuggling ring covering the UK, Spain, and Latin America. He was arrested in a luxury apartment in Dubai along with one of his assistants. L. R. A is also suspected of committing a string of murders in the UK.
Police said the two-year long operation, entitled “Land of Canaries”, led to the seizure of 1.5 tonnes of cocaine, worth around Dh1.5 billion, and eleven arrests in the UK, Spain and Dubai.
Al Mazeina said the operation was considered to be a “complete success,” as it unravelled one of the most active and notorious drug-dealing syndicates in the world.
Al Mazeina said a team was assigned to monitor L. R. A as soon as he arrived in Dubai from Thailand in October 2013. He said that Lt. General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, closely followed the operation due to its importance.
“This is a great achievement for the Ministry of Interior. Lt General Shaikh Saif received a letter of thanks from the NCA for its role in the operation,” Al Mazeina said.
When L. R. A and his partner were arrested, Dubai Police seized mobile phones and documents that linked them to the cocaine shipments, as well as money laundering operations.