Dubai Police arrest 100 dealers in crackdown on WhatsApp 'drug delivery’ service

During the campaign, 632 people reported unidentified drug peddlers on the e-crime portal.

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Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Wed 2 Mar 2022, 12:37 PM

The Dubai Police have arrested 100 dealers for peddling drugs via WhatsApp chat service. The arrests came as part of a drive that targeted unidentified persons selling drugs on the popular app.

The 'Unknown Messages' campaign, held from July 15 to November 1, 2021, encouraged residents to report anonymous messages promoting, selling and delivering drugs to buyers - via GPS - sent on WhatsApp.

Colonel Abdullah Matar Al Khayat, manager of Hemaya International Centre at Dubai Police, called it a "drug delivery" service.

“Some dealers send messages from unknown numbers to residents across the country, offering them different types of drugs listed at different prices," said Al Khayat.

"Once recipients show interest, GPS locations of drugs are shared with buyers after a payment has been made. Buyers then collect the drugs, which are usually buried underground, from the specified locations."

Al Khayat noted that as part of the campaign, residents were urged to share screenshots of messages they receive and send them to police on an electronic platform before blocking the number.

During the campaign, 632 people reported the drug promoting messages on the e-crime portal.

Al Khayat noted the campaign encouraged an increase in community participation in the fight against drugs as compared to only 229 reports received in the 13 months before the campaign.

"In four months only, we received 632 reports, which is a significant increase," said Al Khayat.

The campaign was held in collaboration with several government departments including the Central Bank, Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Etisalat and Du.

Al Khayat said the RTA shared over 77 million warning messages across its different fleets and another 91 million were posted on ATMs across the country.

More than 18 million users received messages from du and Etisalat.

Al Khayat noted that adults recorded the highest response to the campaign. "Teenagers and children need awareness and guidance by the parents to prevent them from falling victims to such drug promoters," added Al Khayat.

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