Dubai Customs foils attempt to smuggle 35m tramadol pills

21 September 2015

Dubai Customs officers seized 35 million tramadol pills and 2.5 tonnes of tramadol powder at Jebel Ali Port.

"In a failed attempt to hoodwink Customs officers, the importer packed the tramadol powder into plastic bags which were then placed inside 100 barrels, and concealed the tramadol pills in 140 carton boxes,” said Yousuf Al Hashemi, the Director of Jebel Ali Customs Centre.

The drugs were sent from an Asian country in parcels, misleadingly labelled as medical products and equipment. The importer had tried to smuggle tramadol into Dubai before, and as a result thereof his consignments were being closely monitored via Customs' risk engine, a high-tech smart system used to identify risky shipments.

“The tainted history of the importer, including a miscarried bid to smuggle tramadol via the Dubai Cargo Village earlier in the year, as well as the suspicion that the consignee was going to receive another suspect shipment, led to the consignment being tracked by Customs inspectors,” explained Talal Al Abdooli, the Director of the Customs Intelligence Department.

Flagged by Customs’ risk engine, the suspected consignment was X-rayed on its arrival at the port, then red-routed for physical inspection. The unconformity between the contents and the manifest was clear to the inspectors, and a closer look at the invoices and the Customs declaration also revealed that they had been manipulated.

The Customs K9 unit and the Customs Mobile Lab team were summoned to the site. The results tested positive for tramadol, a controlled substance that requires a permit from the UAE Ministry of Health before it can be imported. The haul was then detained by Dubai Customs, and the importing company's agent was referred to the Anti-Narcotics Department at Dubai Police’s General Headquarters for further action and investigation.



35 million tramadol pills and 2.5 tonnes of the narcotic in powder form seized by Dubai Customs