But he acknowledged that Sinai-based smugglers were formidable opponents.
"Bedouin have different tactics like releasing the air of the tires of their 4x4 trucks in order to counter the soft deep desert sand, as they avoid any highways," he said.
"There is no doubt that the disbanding of Mubarak's fierce state security has hindered the grip on Sinai and has given the Bedouin more freedom than ever," Emam added.
"Several months back we captured a human trafficker transporting African refugees from Sudan into Sinai; and he had hidden boxes of ammunition and Grad missiles in the same truck carrying the Africans who are sold to Bedouin in Sinai."
However, Menai, the Bedouin leader from the Swarke tribe, said the huge sums of money involved in the smuggling meant many officials could be bribed.
"Military intelligence officers stationed in North-Sinai turn a blind eye when it comes to the multimillion-dollar tunnel business, and many of them at different ranks receive bribes," he told CNN.
As the regional landscape changes, Iran has dropped a hint that it will not be deterred from flying its flag in the Red Sea. Within the past fortnight, two Iranian warships -- a helicopter carrier and destroyer -- visited Port Sudan for five days.
The visit supported "strong political, security and diplomatic relations." a Sudanese military spokesman said.
Acting U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said: "It's hard for us to know what the details are of this visit right now... Certainly we would be concerned."
So were the Saudis. Port Sudan looks out on a vital shipping lane for Saudi crude oil exports.
The latest conflict between Hamas and Israel, and how and when it ends, is just one piece in a regional picture that grows more complex and combustible with every passing week.