Dubai: Three sailors have been accused of smuggling 223 kilograms of hashish and nearly 20,000 Tramadol pills in a dhow’s diesel tanks.

The three Iranian sailors, 31-year-old A.M., 30-year-old E.A. and 50-year-old M.H., were said to have hidden the hashish and Tramadol in jute bags that were placed in barrels inside the diesel tanks.

Drugs prosecutors accused the trio of smuggling and possessing hashish and Tramadol to distribute.

Meanwhile a 35-year-old Bangladeshi worker, A.A., was charged with possessing 10,350 Tramadol pills for distribution and personal use.

Dubai Police’s Anti-Narcotics Department arrested the sailors on December 22 at Dubai Creek following a tip-off that the defendants were in possession of banned substances.

The three sailors denied the charges when they appeared before the Dubai Court of First Instance.

A.A. also entered a not guilty plea regarding drug promotion saying before Presiding Judge Wajdi Al Menyawi: “I possessed the Tramadol for personal consumption and not for promotion.”

An Emirati anti-narcotics police captain testified: “We were alerted that A.M. was about to hand over a sample of hashish to one of our informants. We obtained prosecutors’ permission to search and arrest the 31-year-old involved and any suspect associating with him. We arranged a sting operation and went to the Creek where the suspected dhow was berthed accompanied by the informant. Someone called the informant from overseas and informed him that the drug sample had been placed on the dock adjacent to the dhow. We spotted A.M. walking in a suspicious manner near the drug sample and he was monitoring the spot. The caller asked the informant to wait for 30 minutes… then he told the informant that the drug sample wouldn’t be handed over by hand.”

Prosecution records said the informant made arrangements with the caller and, as soon as the drug sample was handed over, the anti-drug team carried out a raid and held the sailors.

Police also raided the dhow and found the hashish and Tramadol hidden in jute bags in the barrels placed inside the diesel tanks.

Records cited the defendants admitting that they collected the drug consignment in the middle of the ocean before sailing to the Creek. Meanwhile A.A. was arrested when he arrived to collect the 10,350 Tramadol pills.

Presiding judge Al Menyawi adjourned the case until the court appoints lawyers to defend the suspects when it reconvenes on November 4.