Tanzania and Kenya may be working overtime to stop drug traffickers in their territories, occasionally seizing tons of marijuana and kilograms of heroin, but the traffickers keep coming.
A report released by the US State Department says Tanzania remains the region’s major transit country for illicit drugs, allowing their movement to Kenya, Uganda and Europe.
The report says that Tanzanian-based trafficking organizations and courier networks operate globally and play a leading role in the heroin trade in Southwest Asia, using Dar as a launching pad for control trade in East Africa.
Office of International Narcotics Affairs and Law Enforcement International Drug Control Strategy 2021 report shows country location, porous borders and persistent corruption present challenges for drug interception .
“The traffickers transport heroin via small ships to Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania and across Tanzania’s land borders with Kenya and Mozambique to destinations in Europe and North America,” the report said.
Domestic drug use in the country is also on the rise. In April 2020, the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA) of Tanzania seized 300 kilograms of heroin in Dar es Salaam and arrested a Nigerian and two Tanzanian nationals. The seizure represents one of the largest in the history of Tanzania.
The report says drug traffickers use financial incentives to influence politicians, law enforcement and others in positions of power.
In August, the DCEA seized more than five metric tons of marijuana following multiple drug investigations. In September, the Tanzanian police (TPF) seized 51 kg of heroin and arrested eight suspects.
Washington, in the report, also says there are indications that domestic drug use is on the rise in Tanzania.
âIn June 2020, Tanzania opened a methadone clinic in the Tanga region, on the border with Kenya. Contacts suggest that the clinic will serve a growing number of people with substance use disorders, likely resulting from traffickers paying their employees in narcotics instead of money, âhe said.
In February 2019, Tanzania’s DCEA arrested a prominent businessman Abdul Nsebo and his wife Shamim Mwasha for suspected heroin trafficking. In October, the DCEA destroyed 120.9 kg of seized heroin and cocaine, the largest in the region.
In August 2019, a US federal court convicted 10 Tanzanian citizens for their participation in a transnational heroin trafficking ring. Among them was Ali Khatib Haji Hassan, an international drug baron appointed and sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury, who was extradited to the United States with two associates in 2017.
The report also singled out Kenya in the drug trade, noting that its geographical position in the Indian Ocean and its important international air transit point make it an attractive target for drug traffickers carrying drugs from Asia. and from Latin America to Europe and the Arabian Peninsula.
âThe growth of illegal drug abuse in the country, especially in coastal areas, is a concern. The government of Kenya and civil society emphasize vigilance against the drug threat, publicly reject the illicit drug trade, and support demand reduction and mental health efforts, but official corruption is a factor major in the effectiveness of all Kenyan government initiatives, âthe report said. .
Washington says Kenya remains a transit country for a variety of illicit drugs, including heroin and cocaine, and that domestic drug use is increasing in the country. Precursor chemicals used to produce methamphetamine and other illicit drugs also pass through Kenya.
âHeroin from South West Asia enters Kenya both by direct shipment across the Indian Ocean via South Asia and, increasingly, from southern countries such as Tanzania. and Mozambique. Most of the heroin entering Kenya is destined for international markets, primarily Europe. Cocaine enters Kenya mainly by transshipment via Ethiopia from South America, âhe said.
According to a September 2018 Interpol report, drug traffickers were using the East African coast as an open transit route for illicit drug trafficking from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, India, Brazil , Bolivia and Peru with destinations such as South Africa, Europe, United States Asia.
Tanzania and Kenya have, however, succeeded in intercepting drugs passing through their territories since then. In April 2020, the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA) of Tanzania seized 300 kg of kilograms of heroin in Dar es Salaam and arrested a Nigerian and two Tanzanian nationals. In August, the DCEA seized more than five metric tons of marijuana while in September, Tanzanian police seized 51 kg of heroin and arrested eight suspects.
In Kenya, law enforcement has arrested an international wildlife and heroin trafficker currently charged in New York.
The Anti-Narcotics Unit seized approximately 18 kg of heroin and two metric tons of cannabis, as well as traces of cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine and rohypnol.