UAE authorities stopped a smuggling attempt of Captagon worth over $1 billion (AED 3.87 billion) in street value, according to a statement by a high-ranking government official on Thursday.
Six members of a criminal gang were arrested in an operation by Dubai Police who confiscated more than 13 tons of the amphetamine-based drug, which derives its name from a once-legal drug against narcolepsy.
A video released on X, formerly known as Twitter, by the UAE’s Interior Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, shows the local authorities monitoring, tracking and finally moving in to apprehend the suspects.
Dubbed Operation Storm, the authorities acted on intel regarding “smuggling large quantity of drugs,” upon which the drugs were hidden in 651 doors and 432 decorative panels across five containers.
After tracking the first suspect and arresting him after he submitted an extraction claim on three out of the five flagged containers, the teams followed the illicit shipment to an industrial area to apprehend the rest of the gang.
The second suspect was arrested shortly after in Dubai while a third man who is also linked to the shipment of the three seized containers was apprehended in a different emirate.
The fourth and fifth individuals were tracked upon staking a claim for the remaining two containers storing the drug, and were arrested when they arrived to clear the shipment with customs.
The sixth and final suspect was taken into custody after tracking the final two container shipments to a nearby emirate where he had accepted the shipment to offload into a warehouse.
•إحباط تهريب أكثر من 13 طناً من أقراص الكبتاجون المخدرة موزعة في 5 حاويات.— سيف بن زايد آل نهيان (@SaifBZayed) September 14, 2023
•قيمتها السوقية تجاوزت الـ 3 مليارات درهم.
•العصابة الإجرامية حاولت تهريب المواد المخدرة عبر دسها في 651 باب و 432 لوح ديكور.
•ألقي القبض على أفراد العصابة الإجرامية الستة متلبسين.
أشكر الأخ الفريق… pic.twitter.com/8gXD1CD6iE
Dubai Police officials, following the success of the bust, spent “several days” removing the drugs from the doors and panels, according to report by the state-run WAM news agency.
The report added that the shipment, which was brought in on a cargo ship, was destined for another country.
Arab states have long waged a war against the amphetamine-like drug Captagon, which has long been thought to be flourishing due to producers and smugglers from Syria and Lebanon.
While these claims have been categorically denied by the two suspect nations, there have been reports of Arab countries pressuring the likes of Syria to put an end to the cross-border drug crisis.
Authorities in the UAE and Saudi Arabia routinely conduct missions and thwart drug dealing and smuggling.
In one such instance, mid last year, Al Arabiya English learned that Dubai Customs made 936 drug seizures across its land, sea, air and passenger ports only in the first four months of 2022.
This included several attempts to smuggle narcotic substances, like tramadol tablets, Captagon, opium, heroin, hemp seeds, crystal meth, marijuana, and more.