Police stand outside the home of John Ibrahim during a police operation in Sydney, Australia Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai:  A high-profile international drug bust involving three countries, including the UAE, began as an operation two years ago, leading up to a raid on a Dubai restaurant on Monday.

Police in Dubai, Australia and the Netherlands arrested two gangs of 17 people and seized 1.9 tonnes of narcotics in the raids, Dubai Police said on Tuesday.

It follows Monday’s raid by Dubai Police on a Dubai restaurant in which five Australian suspects, including two brothers, were arrested. 

Major-General Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, assistant to the Dubai Police Chief for Criminal Investigation Affairs, said that the operation had started two years ago when the police departments put together a list of the most dangerous drug dealers who belonged to two organised crime gangs.

“The anti-narcotic department of the Ministry of Interior provided important information in the case and in the ‘zero hour’ set by the three countries, Dubai Police raided a restaurant in Dubai and arrested the five suspects, including the two brothers,” Maj-Gen Al Mansouri said.

The two brothers were only identified as M.A. and F.A.

“Our success in arresting the five suspects was a major role in the successful raids in Australia and Netherlands. The Australian authority has sent extradition files for the five suspects from the UAE. The extradition proceedings are underway by Ministry of Justice and Dubai Public prosecution.”
The extradition is expected to be completed within 60 days.

In the bust, nine men and a woman were arrested in Sydney while authorities in the Netherlands arrested two men allegedly behind supplying drugs to an Australian-based syndicate.

Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, commander in chief of Dubai Police, said the three countries had set “a zero hour” to raid the suspects.

He said His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, aims to have a safe society and his vision was a strong motivation for all police officers to do their best in securing the society from all threats even from outside the country.  He praised the instructions of Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, to work closely to develop relationship between UAE and world countries in fighting drugs and their dealers.

“We have a strong relationship with all world countries in fighting drugs by planning successfully to face drug business and their dealers on all levels. It is our leaders vision and determination to fight crime whenever it was to save the society of the danger of drugs,” Maj-Gen Al Merri said in statement issued by Dubai Media Office.

Meanwhile, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said on Tuesday they had broken up two interlinked Middle Eastern crime syndicates.

“The people we allege are part of this syndicate are Middle Eastern organised crime figures that are well-known to law enforcement, and for decades this group has flaunted their wealth and activities, telling the community they were untouchable but today it should be obvious that they are not,” AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan said in a statement.

Police raided 32 homes in Sydney and issued 52 warrants on Tuesday in what they said was one of the biggest attacks on organised crime in Australian history, according to an AFP spokesman.

The investigation began in mid-2016, targeting organised crime groups attempting to import large quantities of drugs and tobacco, according to authorities.
A container of drugs was seized in the Netherlands in July which was allegedly bound for Australia in shipping containers, the AFP spokesman said.

A total of 1.8 tonnes of MDMA, also known as ecstasy, 136 kg of cocaine and 15 kg of crystal methamphetamine were seized by authorities in the Netherlands, Australian police said.

The AFP estimated the value of the drugs at up to A$810 million ($642 million) if sold on the street in Australia.

A total of around A$7 million in cash and property were seized in Sydney as part of the operation, according to authorities.

“This is a clear message that places like Dubai and the UAE more broadly are working with law enforcement to bring these people to justice,” AFP spokesman said.