Watch: How Interpol meetings in UAE helped bust drugs trafficking worth over half a billion dollars

Operation Lionfish V was facilitated by pre-operational and capacity-building meetings in Abu Dhabi


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Photo: Interpol
Photo: Interpol

Published: Thu 22 Sep 2022, 4:04 PM

Last updated: Thu 22 Sep 2022, 4:46 PM

An international operation coordinated by Interpol uncovered the vast scale of drug trafficking network and seized illicit narcotics and precursor chemicals worth more than $717,000,000 (Dh2.6 billion) and arrested of 1,333 suspects worldwide.

Operation Lionfish V is deemed as the largest joint operation carried out by international agencies against drug trafficking.

The operation, which lasted from June 23 to July 31, 2022, resulted in the seizure of more than 291 tons of precursor chemicals and 35.5 tons of narcotics. The successful coordination was facilitated by pre-operational and capacity-building meetings in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

During the meetings, international law enforcement officers shared real time intelligence leading to the disruption of global drug routes and those complex criminal organisations which control them.

Brigadier Abdul Rahman Al Owais, deputy director-general of the Federal Drug Control at the UAE Ministry of Interior (MoI), said, “The MoI is keen on supporting international cooperation to combat narcotics. We have done so through our participation in operation Lionfish.

“This operation was launched by the Interpol Secretariat General to combat cross-border drug trafficking.”

Cocaine hidden inside bricks in Brazil. Photo: Interpol
Cocaine hidden inside bricks in Brazil. Photo: Interpol

He noted that the UAE has provided several statements and confidential information about drug couriers and traffickers which resulted in seizing large quantities of narcotics and apprehending traffickers.

“We are keen to continue with this cooperation and supporting international cooperation to combat narcotics.”

Brigadier Hamad Yousef Khater Alhamadi, director of International Operations at the MoI, said, “Throughout the past five years, we have participated and financed several global operations, including ‘Operation Lionfish’ which started in Singapore and is conducted in its fifth edition now in the UAE.

“We worked on two levels: prevention and seizures. Our global narcotics seizure total value is more than $717 million.”

Drugs haul in Philippines. Photo: Interpol
Drugs haul in Philippines. Photo: Interpol

David Caunter, Organised and Emerging Directorate – Drugs Unit at Interpol, said, “Lionfish Operation is a drug operation we conducted with several countries regionally. In this case, we worked with countries in North Africa, Middle East and well as Asia through leveraging intelligence coming from source countries such as Colombia, Nigeria entering counties like Brazil as well.

During the five-week operation, authorities also seized 1.8 tons of ketamine, 683 kilograms of methamphetamine and 581 kilograms of Captagon.

Weapons seized in Iraq.
Weapons seized in Iraq.

The seizures included - 20.2 tons of cocaine, 11.7 tons of hashish, 158 kg of heroin, 651,000 capsules, 48 kg of tramadol and 9.5 million tablets of pseudoephedrine.

A huge secret laboratory capable of producing thousands of kilograms of ketamine was dismantled in Cambodia, where police arrested an internationally wanted criminal under an Interpol Red Notice for cross-border drug smuggling.

Seizure in India
Seizure in India

India made the largest single seizure of heroin during the operation, confiscating 75.3 kg of heroin in Mundra port. The operation proved that drug traffickers used different types of transportation for drug smuggling, including sea shipments in containers, air mail, postal and courier services and vehicles Commercial, gufast ships and small aircraft.


Interpol has praised the efforts of the UAE in combating narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, the role of its strategies and qualitative initiatives in preventing the spread of the scourge, and its tireless and fruitful efforts to cut the supply lines from the promoters, besiege and arrest them, and share the data and information obtained with the rest of the world, which contributed to limiting the spread of the substances narcotic drugs and control its promoters and dealers.

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