Cocaine in naan bread… How Dubai Customs broke it

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Why was the popular sub-continental naan bread the centre of attention at the world’s busiest airport?

“The way one Asian passenger concealed his cocaine was definitely unique,” said Hassan Ibrahim, Senior Inspections Officer at Dubai Customs.

Hassan explained how a passenger’s recent attempt at smuggling six grams of cocaine (with traces of heroin) was brought to a halt by Dubai Customs at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3.

It began when his sharp-eyed team of inspectors was immediately drawn to the suspect as he arrived in Dubai. “An Asian national arriving at Terminal 3 gave off some strong signs through his body language, so our inspectors stopped him and pulled him aside for a closer look at his luggage.

Screening his belongings through an X-Ray machine revealed one of his suitcases filled with clothes, while the other one was packed with only food. But that’s not what initially triggered the doubts. Hassan explained: “Certain passengers are well-known for packing up a lot of food items, and they usually bring parcels from friends and family members to send over to others.”

So inspectors proceeded to manually check all the food items, and thoroughly searched the luggage contents. After going through the entire bag, the last item was wrapped-up naan bread.

Hassan explained: “When our inspectors asked him what it was, the passenger said he didn’t know, and some guy from his country gave it to him to deliver it here in the UAE.” But the highly-experienced and vigilant inspectors were not convinced, and strongly felt the urge to have an even closer look.

The naan bread was placed under the scanners – where it revealed a package hidden inside. “I don’t think that the passenger expected us to check the inner part of the naan,” said Hassan.

Once the team opened up the bread and placed in a drug detection machine, they discovered it contained 100 per cent cocaine, with traces of heroin.

The drugs were placed inside it and sealed up, something the Dubai Customs team is used to seeing with other food items.

“We had some cases in the past where drugs were hidden inside frozen chickens, in place of kidney and liver,” said Hassan.

The Senior Inspections Officer added the he and his expert team are aware that not everything is as what it appears to be. “Here you are dealing with your experience, gut instinct and heightened sense of security. So no matter what, we have to perform our jobs diligently, until we’re satisfied that you are not carrying anything illegal or harmful to our country and endanger our society.”

Working in the world’s busiest airport surely comes with some unexpected surprises, however, the highly skilled and alert inspectors and their sophisticated detection methods at Dubai Customs constantly thwarts numerous attempts by passengers trying to smuggle in illegal and harmful items.

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