Armed drug smugglers have been using young Omanis to help store their haul before moving it out of the country, the Royal Oman Police has revealed to Y Magazine. Words: Joe Gill and Kate Ginn
Drugs are being brought in by different methods, including fast boats to reach Oman’s beaches. The country’s 1,700 kilometres of coastline stretches resources to the limit as smugglers try to avoid the police and coastguard.
There have also been cases of air passengers swallowing drugs to smuggle them into the country.
Once ashore, the drugs – anything from heroin to LSD – are moved to safe places.
“They (smugglers) also lured a number of Omani youths to assist them in storing their drugs until the time of smuggling it out of Oman,” the ROP told Y.
In an effort to clean up the country, the police have been actively stamping out the supply chain, which feeds the addiction.
“Smugglers are usually armed and resist arrest,” said police. Thanks to proper planning and determination to fight the smugglers and cut off their routes, many shipments were seized and gang members arrested and brought to justice.”
The police have also been hitting the smugglers where it hurts.
“In the past few years, large quantities of seized drugs, equipment and money have been destroyed, causing big losses,” said police.
In March, the anti-narcotics unit sized 15 kilograms of heroin with a street value of over RO384,000. Traffickers linked to international drugs rings were also caught, smashing the Omani connection.
“The ROP is continuing to enhance its efforts to track the drug smugglers and bring them to justice,” the police told Y.
Area, land and sea border posts are monitored with combined customs and anti-drug forces.
In 2011, police, according to figures given to Y, sized 13kg of heroin, 257kg of hashish and more than 8,000 pills.
The year before, the figures were 52kg of heroin, 314kg of hashish and 276,455 pills.
As well as drugs such as khat, opium and heroin, manufactured drugs like synthetic cannabis are also on the streets. Police also revealed that abuse of glue and paints is also a problem among the young.
Medicines, misused and sold over the counter without a prescription in grocery stores is a further concern.
Police admitted that narcotics are “one of the most serious problems facing communities” and warned how the assiduous rise in use is seeping into all parts of society.
Around 3,500 drug addicts are registered with police but realistically there are many more who slip through the system.
It’s not just those responsible for bringing the drugs into the country that are being targeted.
To wage the battle on different fronts, police are trying to reach the younger generation to educate them on the dangers of different drugs.
While the police said that most users are within the 20-40 years old bracket, Y found evidence that the habit starts at a much younger age.
Our special investigation, working on the ground, uncovered how children as young as nine are being drawn into drugs. Studies have shown that the use of soft drugs often leads down the path to harder drugs. Overdoses among young people are rising, according to experts and users that Y has spoken to.
Under the auspices of its new anti-drugs unit, the Directorate General of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Control, the police are working with ministries and schools to spread awareness of the drugs scourge on the premise that ‘prevention is better than cure.’
Officers visit universities, schools and colleges to give lectures and workshops. Police also work with social workers and student counsellors within schools.
“ROP is putting all the efforts required to protect the community from the poisons of the drugs that are draining the community and preventing our country from having good citizens able to serve their country, especially the youth who are the future,” the police said.
The war is far from over.