Mozambique now a key hub in heroin trade

2018-07-05 16:28
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Mozambique has emerged as one of the world's key heroin trading hubs, with the drug now the country's second largest export as it is smuggled from Afghanistan to Europe, according to a new report.

More than 40 tonnes each year is moved via Pakistan across the Indian Ocean in dhows and taken ashore on beaches in northern Mozambique, said the report by London-based researcher Joseph Hanlon, published this week.

The drug is stashed in trucks and driven 3 000km to Johannesburg before being shipped to Europe in a network organised through WhatsApp and Blackberry messages by dealers in Dubai.

"The Dubai dealer contacts a more junior figure in Kenya or northern Mozambique, who sends out Uber-like WhatsApp messages to fishing people telling them to pick up the drugs," said Hanlon, of the London School of Economics (LSE), wrote.

Hanlon, a veteran specialist in Mozambique, said that previous government involvement in the trade had evolved into an informal business built on petty bribes and mobile phone messaging.

Drivers pay off police as there is "some trust involved, even the contracting parties have never met and only correspond by WhatsApp," he said.

Mozambique has been a corridor for heroin trading for 25 years, but volumes have increased in recent years, according to the report, which was also published by Mozambique's Center for Public Integrity.

Mozambique police responded the report by saying the country's long coastline made tackling the trade difficult.

"Great work has been done by police at airports, but we have the problem of vulnerability of land and sea borders," police spokesperson Inacio Dina told AFP.

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