Drug trafficking reportedly rampant in Mozambique

Maputo- Mozambique (PANA) -- An estimated one tonne of cocaine allegedly passes through Mozambique per month, according to an article by the independent Maputo newsheet, Metical.
Mozambique news agency (AIM) on Thursday quoted Metical as warning that drug trafficking "is now Mozambique's biggest business".
An article written by London-based journalist Joseph Hanlon, who has been researching on the drugs trade, claims that "the value of illegal drugs passing through Mozambique is probably more than all legal foreign trade combined, according to international experts".
The unnamed experts cited by Hanlon estimated that "more than one tonne per month of cocaine and heroin are now passing through Mozambique.
" These drugs have a retail value of about 50 million US dollars a tonne.
Since Mozambique is essentially a corridor for drugs, rather than a major user, most of the money ends up outside.
But Hanlon suggests that perhaps 10 percent was the take for drug dealers inside the country.
He claims further that "drug money must be one factor in Mozambique's record growth in recent years".
"This trade is only possible with the agreement of the Mozambican police and very senior Mozambican officials".
Hanlon argues that the trade in illicit drugs "became important in Mozambique only in the late 1990s as major drug dealers began to look for alternative routes which were less easy for the international agencies to control.
" The article also alleges that drug couriers can pass through Maputo airport without difficulty, and that the country is even used to warehouse for stocks of drugs.
Hanlon identified two drug routes.
He claims that Heroin moves "from Pakistan to Dubai to Tanzania and Mozambique and then on to Europe".
The cocaine route is in the other direction "from Columbia to Brazil to Mozambique and on to Europe and East Asia.
" There is also a substantial trade in "soft" drugs.
The use of Mozambique as a transit centre for hashish (cannabis resin) is well known, and there have been several major seizures.
The best known case concerned 40 tonnes of hashish apprehended in Maputo in 1995.
But the only person tried for this was the driver of the truck, Samssudine Satar.
He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment in December 1996, but was released when he immediately lodged an appear.
Four and a half years later, the appeal has yet to be heard.
Another 25 tonnes of hashish was seized on the northern coast in 1997.
Sixteen people were sentenced to jail terms of up to 24 years - but the two businessmen the police regarded as the main suspects were released for lack of sufficient evidence.
There is also trade in mandrax, a drug made specifically for consumers in South Africa.
Here the Mozambican connection is well known because two mandrax making factories were dismantled - one in Trevo, a suburb in the southern city of Matola, in 1995, and another one hidden in a privatised Maputo plastics company in 2000.

29 Junho 2001 08:58:00

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