Tanzania: Drugs Authority Blows Cover Off New Trafficking Methods

Dar es Salaam — The Anti drugs authority has arrested three suspects in what sleuth say is a breakthrough in exposing new tactics which 'mules' were using to continue trafficking in narcotics.

The arrests were of a 25-year old janitor in Dar es Salaam and two male suspects in Kigoma who were accused of separate charges of trafficking in banned drugs in the country. They were both arrested in a sting operation lasting several days of surveillance.

According to the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority (DCEA) Commissioner General James Kaji, the arrests are testimony to the continued efforts to overcome changing tactics by traffickers.

He warned that some drug dealers were cunningly luring Tanzanian women into the business by marrying them - and then turning them into 'mules,' either unknowingly or knowingly. He was addressing a press conference yesterday in Dar es Salaam.

The woman - identified as Mary Edson - was arrested as she mailed two books to India which were found to contain about 450 grammes of heroin. The books were apparently sent to her from Uganda by a Nigerian man she had briefly cohabited with. She has a child fathered by the Nigerian who moved on to Uganda and continues to live in Uganda from where he sent the books for onward shipping to India.

"According to her, the books she was shipping were for her boyfriend in Uganda who wanted them mailed to a friend in India. She has done this at least three other times," said Mr Kaji. The woman, who resides in Tegeta, was nabbed on September 17 as she attempted to send the two books. But she was also found with a heroin weighing machine at her house - suggesting she knew what she was doing. She claimed the machine was left behind by her Nigerian boyfriend.

On September 22, the authority also arrested two people in Kigoma Region who were on their way to ship 243.7 kilogrammes of khat.

Mr Kaji said the first accused, George Justin Mathew, 21, was in possession of two boxes weighing 16.5 kilogrammes each.

"The suspect is a resident of Kigoma Urban and he was arrested at the post office trying to ship the drugs," he said.

Alex Benedicto, aged 31, was the other culprit who was apprehended on the same day with eight parcels of khat in two boxes weighing 16 kilograms each.

He said the accused is from Kasulu, and he was shipping the drugs through postal services.

"We have discovered that there were more boxes in Dar es Salaam with 279 kilograms of khat, bearing the same address thus making a total of 347 kilograms of khat recovered," said Kaji.

He said khat dealers - whose main source is Ethiopia - have changed route as they no longer use Arusha or Dar but have shifted to Kigoma.

Mr Kaji said dealers should not think that the Authority is not paying attention due to the ongoing election campaigns.

He also thanked the work done by the shipping companies such as Posta and EMS who cooperated in the arrest of the culprits.

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