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Battle on to banish illegal alcohol trade.

War has been declared on bootleggers as authorities revealed that 67 tonnes of illegal liquor has been seized and destroyed in Dubai so far this year.

Khalid Salem Selaiteen (pictured), head of the environmental emergency office at Dubai Municipality, is leading the fight against the trade. He revealed the figure - equivalent to 200,000 bottles of beer - as he vowed to rid the emirate of booze bandits by the end of 2012.

"I have three teams working 24 hours a day. If we get a tip-off we will raid the area and seize the contraband. This year alone we have confiscated 67 tonnes of illegal liquor and destroyed it. We are working to remove all illegal liquor in Dubai," said Selaiteen.

SEIZED AND DESTROYED

High-profile, deadly bootlegging battles in the UAE have thrown the issue of illicit alcohol into the spotlight recently.

Last month 17 Indian men, on death row for the murder of a rival in a 2009 turf war, had their sentences reduced to two years by Sharjah Appeal Court after their victim's family agreed to waive their rights in exchange for Dhs3.4 million in blood money.

Another Indian was also handed the death penalty earlier this year for murdering two rival booze bandits - he buried them alive in the Dubai desert.

The latest haul of illegal booze was discovered buried in the sand last Thursday in Al Quoz.

A man was also arrested last week after being caught red-handed selling booze from a rucksack in Bur Dubai.

Selaiteen said labour camps in Al Quoz, Sonapur, Muhaisna and Jebel Ali are areas where his teams find the most contraband. He added: "This is because of the pre-sence of a large number of labourers in the area. Groups work as gangs and are operating in the area.

"We rush to a camp after getting information about the presence of illegal liquor and confiscate the bottles. We also get help from police to raid the area. We have our own sources who inform us about the presence of liquor."

He said bootleggers often bury their stash in the sand or hide it in man-holes before selling it at the weekend.

"They become active on Thursdays and Fridays to sell it to labourers. They earn a huge amount of money doing this. Our job is to get rid of this liquor by next year. We are confident of doing it," Selaiteen said.

All booze that is seized is taken to an isolated location and destroyed by bulldozers.

And Selaiteen warned potential bootleggers not to get sucked into the alcohol trade. Judge Ahmad Saif, head of Dubai Court of First Instance, told 7DAYS that last year the court recorded 1,214 cases of possessing and trading alcohol in Dubai.

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Oct 3, 2011
Words:471
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