The proximity of Oman to drug producing nations is a cause of increase in attempt to use the country as a transit point for global drug smuggling, says police official
Muscat: Drug dealers are increasingly using Oman's strategic location as the transit point for drug trafficking, according to Lt. Colonel Yaqoub Bin Salmeen Al Habsi, Acting head of the Drug Control Department at the Directorate-General of Criminal Investigation.
He said that the proximity of Oman to drug producing nations was another cause of increase in attempt to use the country as a transit point for global drug smuggling.
Traffickers were getting innovative in smuggling drugs through sea route. "Among the newer methods used, infiltrators are used as means to smuggle narcotics into the country as they are dropped off along the coastal area during night."
Oman has also detected cases of air passengers swallowing drugs to smuggle them.
The pitfall of increasing drug smuggling through Oman is increase in use of banned drugs by young Omanis. "Most users [of drugs] in the country are Omanis, although smuggling and trafficking [of drugs] is largely done by the expatriates," said Lt. Col. Al Habsi.
He revealed that last year 895 drug related crimes were reported and 1,417 people accused for such crimes. The senior police officer points out that last year there was an increase in drug related crimes compared to 2009.
The number of drug related crimes reported in 2009 was 688 and the number of those arrested was 1048.
"The drugs seized included 314kg of hashish, 52kg of heroin, one kg of opium, 123gm of morphine and 11kg of qat in addition to 276,455 tablets," he added.
He urged all residents to make every effort to protect society from drug abuse and to discourage young people from falling prey to the menace.
He said that smugglers were now targeting young people for their operations too. "They are taking help of the youth to store these smuggled consignments before smuggling them out to another country," he pointed out.
He stressed that the Royal Oman Police (ROP) was vigilant and had increased patrolling. "We have foiled several bids to smuggle drugs and have arrested a number of smugglers," Lt Col Al Habsi revealed.
He also revealed that a large quantity of drugs has been destroyed and cash earned by smugglers from the drug trade has been confiscated.
He said that the ROP role was not limited to foiling smuggling attempts and arresting traffickers but they also make efforts to rehabilitate drug addicts.
"We take help of Health Ministry's Ibn Sina hospital and other institutions," he said, adding that currently 86 addicts were under treatment at different health institutions in the country.
He also appealed to the parents to raise their own awareness about the drug-related problems and also educate their children and protect them from falling pray to drug addiction.
Lt. Col AL Habsi said that Oman and UAE had formed a joint committee to counter attempts to smuggle drugs through the long coastline of the country.
By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief
Published: 13:19 June 4, 2011
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Drug smugglers increasingly use Oman as transit point