Maldives Police Service and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) on Monday revealed that the drug-trafficking Iranian vessel which was intercepted while operating in Maldivian territory, was also stopped twice prior for possession.
The joint operation by Police and MNDF on May 7 resulted in the seizure of 49kg of drugs from the Iranian boat, while the crew of seven members were arrested.
Head of Drug Enforcement Department and Superintendent of Police Ahmed Shakir revealed that the boat was previously stopped on two counts while it was operating outside Maldivian waters.
The police inspection uncovered that the ship contained compartments to store and hide drugs, thereby leading Police to conclude that the ship carried more substances than was seized.
Shakir said that they identified it as a drug supplier boat.
According to Shakir, six people from Iran and a Pakistani national were onboard, and investigation is underway to determine if there was a link to the 149kg of buried drugs recently discovered in the uninhabited island of Hulhuvaarulaa, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.
The haul of heroin and cannabis seized in the Police's special operation launched on April 29 is valued at MVR 260 million.
Moreover, Shakir revealed that the operation was initiated after intelligence reports of a speedboat carrying drugs, travelling 150 miles outside Maldivian territory. Shakir stated that a police team was sent to the speedboat's reported location.
"After the speedboat brought the drugs, it was transferred to a dinghy and then transported to the island, where it was buried".
Police arrested five people in relation to the drugs buried in the uninhabited island:
- Ahmed Haleel, 42, Gaddhoo, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll
- Shafeez Mohamed, 35, Kondey, Gaafu Alif Atoll
- Ali Shakir, 30, Nilandhoo, Gaafu Alif Atoll
- Ahmed Anil, 34, Kondey, Gaafu Alif Atoll
- Yamih Haalidh, 23, Gahdhoo, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll
The five still remain in detention.
Shakir further revealed that it was the information from the five which led to uncovering the drugs in the uninhabited island.