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Alert sounded on spurt in heroin smuggling from Pakistan via sea

A view of Gwadar port in PakistanA view of Gwadar port in Pakistan | Photo Credit: REUTERS
Devesh K. PandeyNEW DELHI 19 JULY 2020 20:03 IST
UPDATED: 20 JULY 2020 01:32 IST

Inputs from Tanzanian authorities have been shared by the international organisations

The enforcement agencies have increased maritime surveillance following inputs from international counterparts about a spurt in the smuggling of heroin originating from the Gwadar port of Makran coast in Pakistan during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Inputs from the Tanzanian authorities have been shared by the international organisations, following purported revelations by a Tanzanian national, said an official.

The accused said heroin consignments were being smuggled on board dhows from Pakistan and they were being dropped at various coastal locations on the Tanzania border. About 25 such dhows had entered the Tanzanian coastal region between March and May.


The consignments were also being routed via Mozambique, where 12 Pakistani nationals — who initially claimed that they were fishermen — were detained on April 30. Their boat was towed to the Central Mozambican port of Beira. The accused were later arrested and put in jail after traces of heroin were found on the boat, the official said.

Released under suspicious circumstances

In December last year, 13 Pakistani nationals were arrested off the Cabo Delgado province coast with a consignment of heroin and amphetamine. “In Tanzania also, over a dozen Pakistani nationals were arrested in 2017. However, in November 2019, 12 of them were released under suspicious circumstances,” the official said.

In a paper “The Uberisation of Mozambique’s Heroin Trade” published in July 2018, Joseph Hanlon of the Department of International Development of the London School of Economics and Political Science said Mozambique was a significant transit centre and the trade had increased to 40 tonnes or more per year, making it a major export which contributes up to $100 million per year to the local economy.

Mozambique is part of 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 move it more than 3,000 km by road to Johannesburg, and from there others ship it to Europe,” said the report.

Too small to spot

The report said heroin was picked up from the Makran coast of Iran and Pakistan and transported to traditional trading destinations on the coast of Kenya, Tanzania and northern Mozambique.

Usually these are motorised wooden Jelbot dhows built in the United Arab Emirates and designed for sea-going fishing. Their length of 15-23 metres allows them to travel at sea but remain too small to spot from satellites or patrol vessels. They have concealed compartments which can carry 100-1,000 kg heroin, but if stopped pretend to be fishing vessels,” it said


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