Friday, August 16, 2013

‘Tanzanians’ seized in Dar, Jo’burg with Sh7.1bn drugs

‘Tanzanians’ seized in Dar, Jo’burg with Sh7.1bn drugs

By Benon Oluka and Bakari Kiango The Citizen Correspondents (email the author)
Posted Monday, July 8 2013 at 08:10
In Summary
  • In first incident, two women travelling from Tanzania were arrested at the O.R. Tambo International Airp
Johannesburg/Dar. Four Tanzanians were seized carrying illicit drugs with a total street value of Sh7.1 billion in two separate incidents yesterday, highlighting the concern that East Africa is fast becoming a major trafficking hub in the continent.
In the first incident, two women travelling from Tanzania were arrested at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, after authorities discovered 150kg of illicit drugs known as crystal methamphetamine stashed in their luggage.
The drug is better known locally in South Africa as ‘tik’. A statement by the South African Revenue Services (SARS) said the estimated street value of the 150kg of ‘tik’ is R42.6 million (about Sh7 billion).
“It is the biggest tik or crystal meth bust that SARS customs has made at any port of entry,” said SARS spokesperson, Ms Marika Muller, in an interview yesterday.
The drug haul shows that Tanzania, like Uganda and Kenya, is also becoming a major conduit of the methamphetamine. This was the first “tik” seizure involving traffickers from Tanzania while those from Kenya and Uganda carrying this substance have been arrested in the past.
The second incident yesterday involved a couple that was apprehended at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam with 2kg of heroin with a street value of Sh90 million.
The head of the anti-narcotics unit in the Tanzanian Police Force, Mr Godfrey Nzowa, said the couple was heading to Bangkok and were arrested on Saturday around 2pm after a tip off.
He said the couple had divided their consignment between themselves and each was found with a kilo of heroin hidden in their bags. The drugs, he revealed, were coated with coffee in an apparent effort to fool customs officers. “When inspection started, the suspects were not in the travellers’ queue, having moved to mingle with Dar es Salaam residents who were waiting for arriving passengers. But we were already tipped about them, so our boys picked them up and on checking up their luggage, the illegal drugs were found,” said Mr Nzowa.
Yesterday’s drugs seizure comes only a fortnight after Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda admitted use of illegal drugs as well as drug trafficking were increasing in the county at an alarming rate.
Speaking on June 25 on the occasion to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Dodoma, Mr Pinda said statistics show that from 2008 to March 2013, a total of 740kg of heroin, 355kg of cocaine, 207,817kg marijuana and 43,494kg of khat (known in Kiswahili as “miraa” or “mirungi”) were seized by Tanzania’s anti-narcotics agents.
“These statistics are alarming, and they show how big the problem is... This calls for immediate steps to curb the scourge,” said Mr Pinda said.

The police had also arrested two people the same day with 11kg of ephedrine and 2kg of heroin powder. Ephedrine is a chemical used to manufacture methamphetamine.

The crystal methamphetamine is described by various sources as a powerful and highly addictive stimulant with a catalogue of adverse effects. Local reports say ‘tik’ is a popular drug in South Africa, especially in the Western Cape Province, where its use is described as having reached epidemic proportions. Ms Muller said the suspects from Tanzania and their merchandise in six large, black bags, often used for carrying personal items are in police hands. She declined to divulge any more information, saying investigations were still incomplete.
“SARS is not in a position to confirm the nationalities (of the women suspects) because once they are arrested the police take over the investigation and it can be a lengthy process confirming such people’s nationality because you have to confirm that the papers they are carrying are genuine,” she said.


270 kg of drugs seized at Tanzania airport

August 15th 2013

Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Aug 16 (IANS) One person was arrested Tuesday at Dar es Salaam airport with 186 kg of heroin and 84 kg of marijuana, a minister said Thursday.
Minister for Transport Harrison Mwakyembe told reporters that he would name the drug trafficker Friday after gathering more information, Xinhua reported.
Police arrested the trafficker, who was travelling to Italy via Zurich, at the Julius Nyerere International Airport.
The minister said drug trafficking was tarnishing the image Tanzania. "I have launched a campaign to restore Tanzania's image and make our airports safe," he said.
Of late, several people have been arrested for trying to traffic drugs through the Julius Nyerere International Airport, the busiest airport in Tanzania.

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