DUBAI (Reuters) – Fifteen Afghans may face the death penalty in the United Arab Emirates for smuggling 202 kg (445 lb) of heroin hidden in the fuel tanks of trucks, newspapers reported on Thursday.
Prosecutors in the emirate of Sharjah sought the death penalty against the group who are accused of smuggling the drugs worth $10.9 million into the Gulf Arab state, the daily Khaleej Times said.
Three of the suspects, who operated a business importing fruits and food as a cover, are still at large.
In 2007, Afghanistan produced about 93 percent of the world’s opium, from which heroin is made. Corruption in the central Asian country is hobbling efforts to combat the booming trade, according to the United Nations.
The oil-exporting UAE is a federation of seven emirates including trade and tourism hub Dubai.
Drug smugglers face jail for life or capital punishment in Gulf Arab countries, although the death penalty is rare in the UAE. In Saudi Arabia, offenders are often beheaded.