Border patrols tighten as drug smuggling increases

ABU DHABI -The Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (AGCC) states have agreed to tighten control along the Gulf coastline to prevent international gangs from using the regional waters to route their deadly stuff to other parts of the world, in view of indicators that drug smuggling into the region is increasing alarmingly.

By Muawia E. Ibrahim

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Published: Fri 14 May 2004, 12:24 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:24 PM

Wrapping up a three-day meeting in the capital city on Wednesday, the chiefs of AGCC Anti-narcotics Departments said international reports point to an increase in global production of drugs, especially in the drug producing countries surrounding the AGCC states.

Afghanistan alone produces 75 per cent of the world's opium, the officials said.

'One of the other indicators that forecast a constant rise in drug smuggling is the increase in the number of smuggling operations into the AGCC states which is confirmed by the huge quantities seized in the member states,' the officials said in their final remarks.

Sounding the alarm bell, the officials who represented the six member states, said international drug smuggling gangs were using various advanced techniques to conceal drugs. These techniques are costly and make it difficult to detect.

'Drug smugglers and traffickers exploit the security situation in some drug producing countries such as Afghanistan to increase the quantities they smuggle into the AGCC countries,' the officials observed.

They also pointed out that smuggling gangs misuse express post in their operations, which indicates their clear intention to carry on with their devastating business which targets the region.

During the meeting the delegations were alerted about the involvement of AGCC citizens in drug trafficking and smuggling, though their role was, till recently, restricted to drug abuse. Videos documenting cases of foiled attempts recently by some member states, and techniques used in concealing drugs as well as the nationalities of smugglers were shown during the meeting.

The participants were also briefed by Colonel Ali Yousef Alsaoud Al Sabbah, head of the Kuwaiti delegation who also chaired the meeting, on the rise in drug smuggling via land routes as a result of lack of security in neighbouring Iraq.

Following lengthy discussions, the officials agreed on the need to support the agencies concerned with the fight against drugs in member states through financing their operations, providing human resources as well as technical and technological equipment. The officials said AGCC citizens released after serving a jail term on charges of involvement in drugs should be monitored closely.

'Each member state should take tight measures to closely monitor citizens who have been released, especially those who have been convicted in drug lawsuits,' the officials urged.

The discussions covered country reports on status of drug-abuse in member states, a unified legislation to combat drugs and psychotropic substances in member states, latest developments in drugs issue, in addition to reports and resolutions issued by regional and international meetings on drugs.

A paper presented by the Omani Ministry of Interior on the 'Repercussions of cross-ocean drugs smuggling on AGCC states was also discussed. Statistics presented in the paper showed constant increase in smuggling operations via sea comparing these quantities to the statistics of the previous two years.

The paper attributed the increase to the geographical location of the AGCC states which are close to producing and exporting countries. Far-stretching coasts is also another factor.

A UAE paper on the involvement of AGCC citizens in drug trafficking and smuggling was also reviewed at the meeting.

The paper suggested several recommendations aimed at curbing the phenomenon. The delegations agreed to refer the recommendations to the corrective institutions in the AGCC states.

The recommendations include tightening control in corrective facilities including adoption of a system to separate inmates according to their categories to prevent intermixing. Best prison guards should be appointed to prevent their exploitation and influence by inmate.

Inmates should be provided the necessary care, including treatment and rehabilitation. Recreational programmes should be organised to help inmates utilise their free time in useful activities which will also help them take up jobs after their release.

The paper also called for provision of social care to the families of those convicted in drugs cases throughout their prison term as per each country's regulations.

The paper highlighted the UAE's efforts in combating drug trafficking and drug abuse. It said that a national strategy to reduce the demand for drugs had been drafted.

The awareness programmes organised by the authorities concerned have resulted in the reduction of demand for drugs and helped many addicts to quit the habit. This has been possible through the anti-drugs law which stipulates that no legal action should be taken against an addict who admits himself voluntarily for treatment.

On international cooperation, the paper said the UAE's efforts had helped in foiling many attempts and seizing large quantities of drugs in which many criminals were involved.

There were seven operations of controlled delivery of drugs foiled by the UAE and neighbouring countries (Saudi Arabia and Oman). These operations in which 30 people were convicted resulted in seizure of 4639 kg of hashish.

Joint efforts with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman resulted in foiling four attempts in which 893 kg of hashish, 6.5 kg of heroin were seized. Nineteen people were arrested in connection with the attempts.

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