POLICE are planning to intensify hunting down drug traffickers through screening imported spare parts for automobiles and other machinery, it has been revealed.
The Head of Anti-narcotics Unit, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Godfrey Nzowa, told the 'Daily News' that news of metal gear found stashed with heroin in Hong Kong was a cause for alarm. "Though we are yet to get official communication over the issue, we have every reason to start screening such gadgets entering our country," he said.
Mr Nzowa also advised officials working at the country's borders, harbours and airports to communicate in case of any suspicious parcel for screening. "If we seize any dubious parcel being sent abroad, we will make sure that communication is made with authorities in intended destination of the parcel so that the recipient is also put to task," he said.
Mr Nzowa urged neighbouring countries to join hands with Tanzania so as to make it difficult for drug traffickers to do their business. He added that some drug traffickers were now looking for alternative outlets after weeks of tightened security at Tanzania's airports, adding that the Hong Kong incident which claims that a drug trafficker bearing a Tanzanian passport was arrested on arrival from Nairobi is also a cause for concern.
China customs officials in Hong Kong were quoted last week reporting that they seized some 1.5kg of heroin at the country's international airport within two weeks.
Reports had it that a parcel declared as 'metal gear' carried by a Tanzanian who boarded a plane in Nairobi, Kenya was found with 0.7kg of heroin on August 2, while another one was netted on August 15 with 0.8kg of the same drug. Under Hong Kong's Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, drug trafficking is a serious offence, carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of $5m (Sh8.1billion).
The August 2 seizure came hardly a week since two Tanzanian men were arrested on July 27, also in Hong Kong, with drugs estimated at a street value of 2.2 billion/- ($1.38m) who were arrested upon arrival from Dar es Salaam via Dubai. The two had left the country for Hong Kong at 5pm on July 26, aboard an Emirates flight.
On Friday, Transport Minister Dr Harrison Mwakyembe told a news conference in Dar es Salaam that his officer was making a close follow-up on the July 27 arrests in an attempt to gather information on whether the two suspects boarded at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA).
"We are waiting for information from Hong Kong authorities - once we confirm that the suspects smuggled the drugs through one of our international airports we will act accordingly without any hesitation," Mwakyembe said.
The Minister also named six airport personnel, one of them a police officer, for facilitating passage to South Africa of the 180kg of drugs valued at 8.2bn/- on July 5, this year.
Mr Mwakyembe ordered for the immediate dismissal of the suspects to pave way for legal action. Two young females, Agnes Gerald Deal (alias Masogange) and Melisa Edward were arrested on arrival at Oliver Tambo Airport in Johannesburg and have since been charged in court.