Drugs via WhatsApp

As many as 40 tonnes of heroin could be passing through Mozambique every year, making it the country’s second biggest export, in a trade that is boosted by the use of mobile phone apps, writes Mozambique analyst Joseph Hanlon.
Mozambique is now an important stop for heroin traders who are using circuitous routes for their product to reach Europe from Afghanistan, as tighter enforcement has closed off the more direct paths.
The heroin goes from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s south-west coast, and from there it is taken by motorized 20m wooden dhows to close to northern Mozambique’s coast.
The dhows anchor offshore and smaller boats take the heroin from the dhow to the beach, where it is collected and moved to warehouses. It is then packed onto small trucks and is driven 3,000 km (1,850 miles) by road to Johannesburg, and from there others ship it to Europe.
Each dhow carries a tonne of heroin, and one arrives every week except during in the monsoon season, which makes about 40 arrivals a year.
Heroin also comes in by container into the country’s Nacala and Beira ports where it is hidden among other goods, such as washing machines.
Overall, this means that at least 40 tonnes of heroin pass through through the country each year, according to experts. I estimate that the drug is worth $20m (£15m) per tonne at this point in the trade, making it the country’s second most valuable export, after coal.
Mozambique’s biggest exports:
Source: Mozambique government; Joseph Hanlon
Out of the export’s total value, about $100m is estimated to stay in Mozambique as profits, bribes, and payments to members of the governing Frelimo party.
Since 2000 the heroin trade has been carried out by established import businesses, which hide the drugs in legitimate consignments and use their own warehouses, staff and vehicles to facilitate their movement. At ports, workers are told not to scan containers of certain trading companies so the drugs are not discovered.
Political involvement
Senior Frelimo figures have an overview of the business, meaning that there has been no conflict between trading families and little heroin remains in Mozambique.
Police spokesman Inacio Dina said the authorities were investigating these findings. He said the police were doing their best to stop the drugs trade but admitted it was a huge challenge.

Source: BBC

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