Mozambique: Illicit Drugs Seized On Nacala Beach

Angoche in Mozambique (file photo)

Maputo — Mozambique's National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) last Saturday arrested a man in possession of 66 kilos of illegal drugs (heroin and methamphetamine) on a beach outside the northern port city of Nacala.

When SERNIC presented the suspect to reporters in Nampula city on Thursday, he confirmed that he had been detained in possession of 61 kilos of heroin and five kilos of crystal meth, which were to have been transported by road to Maputo, and then on to South Africa, the final destination for the drugs.

SERNIC seized the drugs as they were being unloaded from a small boat onto the beach. The SERNIC Nampula provincial spokesperson, Enina Tsenine, said the man arrested is part of a network of drug traffickers. Five others had been with him, all of them Tanzanians, but they managed to escape, during the police operation, shortly after midnight.

Work is continuing to "neutralize" the Tanzanians said Tsenine. She believed the drugs had come from Tanzania.

In the past drug traffickers had unloaded their illegal cargoes on the coast of Cabo Delgado province, but that has become more difficult because of the military operations in Cabo Delgado, where the Mozambican defence and security forces are fighting against islamist terrorists. So the drugs trade may have moved south, to the Nampula coast.

"We are working to ensure that Nampula ceases to be used as a drugs corridor", said Tsenine. "These actions happen on the coast, which is very long, and so we are urging the public to cooperate with the police in preventing these crimes".

It must be suspected that this incident is connected with drug trafficking that was aborted by a French surveillance frigate last Sunday, the day after the Nacala seizure.

The frigate, the "Nivose", seized 444 kilograms of methamphetamines and heroin, valued at more than 48 million US dollars, from a dhow sailing in the Mozambique Channel.

The "Nivose" is part of the French Armed Forces in the Southern Zone of the Indian Ocean (FAZSOI). It was carrying out a mission described in a FAZSOI communique as "a mission of sovereignty […] to the French Southern and Antarctic Lands via a route renewed due to health constraints, passing in particular through the Mozambique Channel".

The dhow was flying no flag, and showed no sign of any nationality. So the frigate crew boarded the dhow. With a French helicopter flying overhead, the dhow offered no resistance. The French boarding team searched the vessel and found 27 kilos of heroin and 417 kilos of methamphetamines - the same type of drugs seized on the Nacala beach the previous day.

The French authorities based on Reunion authorized the seizure of the drugs. The "Nivose" then resumed its patrolling activities in the Mozambique Channel.

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