Mozambique: Heroin is Country's Second Biggest Export

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(File photo).

Mozambique is a significant heroin transit centre and the trade has increased to 40 tonnes or more per year, making it a major export which contributes up to $100 mn per year to the local economy. For 25 years the trade has been controlled by a few local trading families and tightly regulated by senior officials of Frelimo, the ruling party, and has been largely ignored by the international community which wanted to see Mozambique as a model pupil.

It appears that there is a shift to a second channel, not so tightly controlled by the old trading families and the ruling party. The global move toward the gig economy and the broader corruption of Mozambican police and civil service makes it easier to organise alternative channels, with local people hired by WhatsApp and BlackBerry for specific tasks.

Mozambique is a key link in a complex chain which forms the east African heroin network. Heroin goes from Afghanistan to the Makran coast of Pakistan, and is taken by dhow to northern Mozambique. There, the Mozambican traffickers take it off the dhows and carry it to the coast, and then move it more than 3000 km by road to Johannesburg. From there others ship it to Europe.

This Mozambique heroin study was a background paper for "Tackling heroin trafficking on the East African coast" by Simone Haysom, Peter Gastrow and Mark Shaw of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

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