Tanzania is East Africa’s biggest hub for drugs trafficking, according to the US department of State. A new report released by the US department of State says that Tanzania-based drug trafficking organisations and courier networks operate globally and play a prominent role in the Southwest Asian heroin trade, using Dar es Salaam as the launchpad to control the trade in East Africa.
“Traffickers exploit Tanzania’s 1,300km coastline and inadequate port security. Heroin is transported by small vessels southward along Africa’s east coast to Zanzibar and the mainland and in large quantities via land borders from Kenya, through Tanzania, and onward to Mozambique for trans-shipment to Europe and North America. Smaller quantities are trafficked to Europe, India and North America largely via commercial air,” the report released on Monday reveals.
The report fingers Dar es Salaam as the region’s key transit point for illicit drugs, facilitating the movement of multi-million-dollar narcotics to Kenya, Uganda and Europe as a result of its porous borders and poor policing.
The US Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs report cites Tanzania’s location, porous borders, and persistent corruption as a major challenge to drugs interdiction.
Dar es Salaam and Mozambique have since become the new landing points for the narcotics brought through the Indian Ocean, after the enhanced enforcement efforts undertaken by Kenyan authorities in recent years.
“This has seen ocean-going dhows transporting heroin into East Africa to bypass Kenya in favour of less protected Tanzanian and Mozambican shores, with subsequent land transport to Kenya or neighbouring Uganda,” the report says.
The South American cocaine enters Tanzania by air for further international distribution, the report says, while the country also produces cannabis and khat for domestic consumption and regional distribution, even though they remain illegal in the country.
Despite progress made by Kenya in tackling narcotics trafficking, Washington also pointed an accusing finger at the Kenyan judiciary for doing little to help in the fight against narcotics trade in the country, adding that it “requires further improvements to effectively prosecute drug-trafficking cases.”
“Kenya continues to face the threat of drugs flowing to and through the country and the ancillary corrupt activities associated with drug trafficking. Kenya’s government will need to remain vigilant and aggressively pursue drug traffickers and continue efforts at the grassroots level to reduce drugs demand,” the report states.
In January, a US court sentenced Ibrahim Akasha and Baktash Akasha of Kenya’s Akasha drug trafficking empire to 23 years in prison and 25 years respectively while the two had operated with impunity in Kenya for years with not as much as a conviction.
Kenya is still a significant transit country for a variety of illicit drugs, including heroin and cocaine, and states that domestic drug consumption is growing, according to US.
Some chemicals used to produce methamphetamine and other illicit drugs also continue to transit Kenya, according to the report.