Dubai Customs made almost 5,000 seizures during last year – including the country’s largest-ever haul of crushed captagon, the highly addictive amphetamine, the governmental body has exclusively told Al Arabiya English.
Adel al-Suwaidi, director of Dubai Custom’s technical support department, said Dubai Customs is using highly innovative technology – including underwater drone technology - to thwart illegal or banned substances into the UAE.
It enabled customs officials to make 4,696 different seizures in 2021. That included an attempt to smuggle crushed Captagon pills worth Dh1.4 billion into the emirate in December through Jebel Ali Port, the busiest port in the Middle East and one of the biggest in the world.
“Jebel Ali and Tecom Customs Center, which operates under the Sea Customs Centers Management, has recently thwarted the country’s largest haul of crushed captagon, known as an illegal stimulant,” said al-Suwaidi.
“A whopping 1.5 tons of the substance was discovered by duel efforts by the Customs Operations Room at the Sea Customs Center Management and the customs port control project, Siyaj.”
Al-Suwaidi said Dubai Customs “works in accordance with an integrated strategic vision to combat the smuggling of prohibited substances, ensure the security and safety of society and its economic prosperity, and consolidate the UAE's position among the safest countries in the world.”
“The Department, as part of its national duty and commitment, fights all types of smuggling attempts thanks to the vigilance and advanced security sense of customs inspection officers, full cooperation and coordination between customs departments, and very advanced technological infrastructure.”
Some of the recent innovations being used by Dubai Customs include the Smart Inspection Table. It features an integrated system that helps track and document the inspection process at Dubai Airports.
Another recent innovation is the ‘Customs Submarine’, which can take high-quality 3D pictures and videos of vessels’ hulls underwater to thwart any smuggling attempts.
Similarly, Dubai Customs has recently developed underwater drones termed ‘Customs Dolphins’ that can be sent to control and monitor vessels before entering the wharfage.
The new innovation was recognized at the UAE Innovates 2022 Awards winning the “Best Disruptive Innovation” award.
“Dubai Customs uses world-class systems and advanced inspection devices to detect and thwart smuggling attempts,” said al-Suwaidi. “A highlight in this regard is the in-house Smart Risk Engine system. The System alerts us of any container that needs to be scanned based on a complicated risk profile in the system that used 128 standards, backed up by intelligence data and information.
“The highly trained intelligence officers analyze all this data and determine the risk level of danger in the upcoming shipments and to pre-monitor dangerous shipments according to carefully studied plans. The intelligence team analyses shipments coming into the emirate daily and recommend best ways to deal with them.
“There are also six advanced automatic container scanners at Jebel Ali Customs Center, with a capacity of scanning 900 containers per hour. These can detect any abnormality and density difference in the containers, backed up by the K9 Unit.”
Dubai Customs has provided several training courses for its inspectors, and has implemented a training program through virtual reality technology; the first of its kind in the world, said al- Suwaidi.
“It is a smart program that is fed with information about different prohibited goods and the latest smuggling methods and tricks followed in this rogue industry.
“Dubai Customs is a nod to more than 100 years of excellence and outstanding performance. Developing the customs inspection sector is an integral part of the Government Department’s strategic plan 2021-2026 and its vision to stand out globally.”
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