Muscat: The geographical situation of Oman has made it an increasingly vulnerable target in the recent years as gangs of drug smugglers use it as a transit country to supply drugs to neighbouring states, say experts dealing with combating of narcotics.
The drug menace takes a dangerous turn because of the fact that Oman's coasts are in the proximity of regions that are the major source of drugs.
An official at the Directorate- General for Combating Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances told the Times of Oman that seas and oceans that surround the Arab countries turn them into an easy transit route between the drug-producing areas in Asia and the areas where drugs are consumed in Europe and the Middle East.
About the drug menace in the Sultanate, the official said that the issue is very pertinent, particularly because drugs target the youth segment, both men and women, and more efforts need to be made to combat it.
The Sultanate, with its coastline stretching for 3,165km, is exposed to drug smuggling, the official added. According to the official, heroin was the main drug seized by the ROP in 2013. The number of drug addicts reached more than 1,400 in 2013, compared to 1,258 in 2012.
The drug related crimes also increased in 2013 in number, compared to the past years, the official said.
About the security measures to curb this menace, the official said that the ROP has recruited highly qualified Omani cadres in all posts and equipped them with cutting edge equipment that can detect most of the drug smuggling bids.
The new modus operandi adopted by the drug smugglers involves the use of infiltrators who enter the country, mostly with heroin in their possession, with the help of citizens and residents here who are themselves involved in drug trafficking.
Hundreds of such people have been arrested and referred to the Public Prosecution for legal action, the official added.
About amending the drugs related laws, the official stressed that these are periodically reviewed to ensure that the laws are keeping pace with the increase in the drug related crimes.
He added that the drug crimes have been on the rise year after year despite strenuous efforts of the ROP, and the issue requires more cooperation from all segments of the society to work together to get rid of this menace.