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Drug haul goes missing from airport; police identify security blind spots

17 January 2023, MVT 16:17
Drugs confiscated from Velana International Airport (VIA) previously: Maldives Police Service has said that security cameras have not been placed in some critical areas of the airport --
17 January 2023, MVT 16:17

Around 46 kilograms of drugs seized by the Maldives Customs Service from two different individuals have disappeared, along with one of the individuals that attempted to smuggle the drugs into the country.

Mihaaru News found out that a Pakistani man was caught with 30 kilograms of drugs in his luggage earlier this month. He was turned over to the police; however, the luggage containing the drugs was not.

In another incident on Monday, a man was caught attempting to smuggle 16 kilograms of drugs into the country. He was apprehended by the authorities, but he disappeared after being caught, along with the luggage containing the drugs.

The police are currently investigating the two incidents. They did not reveal any information regarding the matter.

When asked about the missing luggage containing the drugs, Customs’ Commissioner General Abdullah Shareef said that he was not aware that they had disappeared. He said that it was standard procedure to hand over drugs that they find to the police.

Shareef, however, said that the authority only wants its officers placed in the inspection areas. He said that this would enable them to identify responsible parties for these types of incidents.

A source told Mihaaru News that they believe the culprits identified security blind spots in the airport where there are no cameras and placed contraband and drugs in these spots for them to be smuggled out of the airport. Highlighting that this is common practise for smuggling in other countries, the source said they believe similar tactics are being used in the Maldives now.

Blind spots in airport security

The police stated on Tuesday that they were investigating how the drugs went missing. They also said that security cameras have not been placed in some critical areas, supporting Mihaaru news’ source’s claim that there are blind spots in airport security.

The police also confirmed that a Pakistani man was arrested on January 8 for attempting to smuggle drugs into the country and that the customs did not hand over the luggage containing the drugs.

So far, from the footage they have received from Velana International Airport (VIA), they have not been able to locate the missing luggage, the police said, adding that footage from important areas in the airport was missing because of a lack of security cameras.

According to the police, they also questioned the Pakistani man about the missing luggage, but he claimed he did not know anything about its confiscation.

The police said they had to let him go because there was not enough evidence to keep him in custody. However, they assured that they were closely investigating the matter.

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