Driven by courage and a high sense of moral responsibility, Mohammed Al Bloushi decided to tell his story with drugs without fear, in a bid to raise awareness of his young fellow countrymen about the dangers associated with drug use and abuse. He elaborates on how he became prey to this rampant vice at a very young age, when he was still a student, and ended up sentenced to life in prison. He emphasized that his release from prison was the final chapter of a tragedy written by bad friends who “fooled him” as a young man, and abandoned him to his fate when he ended up in jail.

As he began talking, I asked him what prompted him to publish his story through the various print and visual media; to which he replied courageously: “As a believer, I fear none but Allah Almighty; and since I had the courage to lie when it was wrong to do so, I will not falter in doing what is right. I have to tell my story with drugs; how I got addicted and how it all ended up.” Al Bloushi spoke at lengths; feeling relieved to have been freed from the galling yoke of bondage to drugs: “I was born into a family that adheres to Islamic piety and memorizes the Holy Quran. At the age of 13, I had the misfortune of meeting bad companions at school, who introduced me to smoking, and fancied up the buzz of missing school and playing truant by jumping over the school’s fence, not knowing that such ill-behavior is the beginning of the painful end.”

The big challenge

Al Bloushi continues: “At the beginning of the school year, my classmates in seventh grade diabolically challenged me, either to be a man and have my first try of drugs, or to be a wimp, refuse and ‘run back to my mother’. I took on the challenge, and we got addicted to prescription drugs at first. We used to convince ourselves of having problems as an excuse to addiction. For example, when our parents fail to fulfill promises or to meet our demands; we used these issues as a pretext to use and abuse drugs.”

Drug Abuse and Trafficking

Adding further, Al Bloushi explains that his family married him off at the age of 14, thinking that marriage would help him settle down and become responsible. He said: “It was unfortunately too late. In a short period of time, the relation between my friends and I had evolved; we went on from being drug users to being drug peddlers as well. I quit school indifferent to the disastrous consequences.” Al Bloushi continues: “I was fascinated by crime; and by the young dealers’ well-rounded luxurious lifestyles, availing all means of comfort, luxury cars and other things not everyone can afford. We decided to further our chances at success. The big shots ‘They Fooled Us’ into believing that drug dealing  is a business that takes courage; they convinced us that they don’t care about being arrested by the police, saying that  brave men don’t  fear prison, cowards are wimps. To prove our manhood, we ventured into the world of drug trafficking, imagining delusional heroic actions by which we prove to be the bravest of men. Driven by these delusions, I travelled to areas where drugs are cultivated and manufactured, learned how to smuggle them into the UAE; and how to distribute them. However, most of the illicit shipments that I smuggled into the UAE were not meant to be distributed here; they were later sent to neighboring countries.”

Rugged Roads

Al Bloushi indicated that different smuggling methods were used to bring in drugs, in a bid to avoid being caught by the police; stressing that he was passionate about adventure and was familiar with rugged mountainous roads. Al Bloushi adds: “I used different means of transportation to smuggle what was mostly large shipments for big traffickers. My extensive experience in the field earned me an array of customers, and soon, I went on from being a drug mule to become a drug peddler myself; which angered a fellow Asian drug dealer that I used to work for.  And just like bad friends ‘Fooled me’ and “fancied up” drugs for me, some victims say that ‘I Fooled Them’ by selling them drugs. During this time, I got addicted to heroin, as I started smuggling this type of drugs.”

Another World

On the other hand, Al Bloushi says that drug abusers may sometimes feel guilty, but instead of quitting, they take drugs again to shun this feeling. “Drug addicts live in a different world; they have no notion of time or of other people around them. We used young addicts aged between 17 and 18 as mules to smuggle drugs inside their stomachs through airports from the source country. We use to pay for their trips and provide them with  a small amount of drugs, to get them hooked and have them work for us again,” says Al Bloushi.

Secret Informer

Furthermore, Al Bloushi said: “Drug dealers lack ethics and morals; they live by the motto “Devil May Care”. That’s how I fell into the trap of a fellow trafficker, who ratted out on me when he learned that I became his competitor, after three years of working in the smuggling business. Despite all my precautions, I fell into the hands of the police, and I understood that the world of drugs is treacherous.”

Firm Evidence

Al Bloushi explains how he got caught: “The dealer told the informer about my activity, so he came to me and asked 50 kg of hashish. Even though I approved, I became suspicious and tried different ways to not fall into the hands of the police. I changed the delivery location from the hotel to the airport, but fate was against me, and when it renders its judgment there is no way out, no matter how intelligent you are. I was caught by the police drug control officers of the airport upon delivery of the goods.  During interrogation, I tried to deny the charges, but the evidence was conclusive. I was sentenced to life imprisonment, but the sentence was reduced to 15 years on appeal. While in prison, I lost all hope, which prompted me to attempt suicide; but I was rescued on time and taken to the prison’s clinic.”

Suicide Attempt

Different tales and stories are heard behind bars; of drug dealers, traffickers and addicts who suffer the same fate as they spend their sentences ranging from life imprisonment to four years imprisonment, and develop amicable relations centered on how to cope their situation. Al Bloushi says that an elderly man in his late fifties advised him to forget himself and his family to stay sane. Commenting on this, he says: “I took his advice and stopped calling my parents and refused to see them. I also started quarrel with prisoners and warders to escape reality. At the same time, I began writing stories, about my experience with drug addicts and sending these articles to newspapers, including the “Gulf News” Youth page. Through these articles, I offered advice to young people on the need to stay away from this nefarious scourge. My writings had good impact on young people, because of my past experience  as a drug addict, as I made it clear to them that drug abuse is an affliction that ruins lives, and urged to say no to drugs.”

The Turning Point

Writing articles for newspapers was a turning point in the life of Mohammed Al Bloushi. He once asked himself: Why don’t you take your own advice? Don’t let your words remain ink on paper. This helped him go back to the right path. His relationship improved with the Punitive and Correctional Establishments’ Department. He began organizing activities and participating in all events such as the National Day and other special occasions, thanks to the prison administration that provided him with the necessary pens and papers. He also has a regular column in the “Gulf News” newspaper titled: “From behind the bars”.  Additionally, Al Bloushi memorized the Quran and became a memorizer after successfully passing the Quran memorization exam. He was released from prison few months following a general amnesty for Quran memorizers.

The Triangle of Fear

On the other hand, Al Bloushi emphasized that his struggle did not end with his release from prison. He said: “Upon my release, I had lost all support from my children and family members. I was broken-hearted and weak. I started consuming large quantities of fresh fruit juices to reduce drug withdrawal symptoms. My work with newspapers provided me with a low income. I had nothing left, I had returned to my parents’ house completely broke because illegally gained is easily spent. I decided to start a decent life, so I sought a career in real estate. However, lack of funds caused me to fail, and lured me back into addiction. Only, I got my act together two months later and got medical treatment. I decided to refrain completely from abusing drugs, after seeing how all my fellow addicts had died either after suffering an overdose, or from suicide. Drugs are a triangle of fear: terror, prison or death. Today, I am leading a healthy lifestyle, free of drugs and concerns, and striving to find a decent job to provide for my daily needs.”

In conclusion, Al-Bloushi noted that the MoI`s ‘They Fooled Me”  campaign has a positive impact on him; but the most important aspect should be  providing jobs for those who had overcome addiction, to prevent them from  relapsing due to lack  of job or money. Al-Bloushi pointed that those people can be leveraged as mentors or counselors to educate arrested drug addicts about the nefarious effects of drugs.

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