The administration’s intensified counter-narcotics operations in response to the escalating epidemic of drug abuse and illicit narcotics trade are yielding positive results, Ali Ihusaan, the Minister of Homeland Security and Technology, has stated. He disclosed that recent operations have resulted in the seizure of drugs worth MVR 44.5 million over the past six weeks.

This announcement was made during an event at Feydhoo Island, Addu City, as part of President Mohamed Muizzu’s ongoing tour to the southern atolls. The administration is embarking on a major initiative to combat drug abuse and illicit trafficking, according to Ihusaan, with the enforcement agencies setting a five-year timeline to comprehensively address issues related to illegal substances.

Ihusaan stated, “In the past six weeks, we have prevented drugs worth MVR 44.5 million from reaching our streets.” The administration is concurrently working on providing treatment to drug abusers and facilitating their reintegration into society.

Upon assuming office, the Muizzu administration identified 500 individuals mandated by the drug court to undergo treatment. To date, treatment has commenced for 300 of these individuals, Ihusaan said, with plans underway to enrol the remaining individuals in treatment programmes shortly.

The issues related to undocumented foreign workers are another area of focus for the Homeland Security Ministry. A specialised task force has been established to address this issue. “[We have deported over] 1,800 individuals. Including those who voluntarily left and those who were forcibly deported,” Ihusaan revealed.

Meanwhile, the Maldives Police Service (MPS) has heightened operations against drug trafficking and the illicit sale of liquor. This includes increased inspections of vessels entering and departing from Malé and continuous patrolling of Hulhumalé harbour.

The Muizzu administration has reclassified illegal drugs as a national security threat, marking a departure from the health-centric approach of the previous administration. The National Drug Agency (NDA), previously under the purview of the Ministry of Health during the Ibrahim Mohamed Solih administration, has been realigned under the Homeland Security Ministry.

Despite these intensified efforts, public reactions to the government’s anti-drug campaign have been mixed, with some expressing scepticism about the long-term sustainability of these operations.