4,000 arrested in Tanzania war on drugs

Wednesday July 12 2017

Drugs found in during a swoop on suspects. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


More than 2,000 Tanzanians are being held in foreign jails for drug dealing, while another 4,000 drug suspects have been arrested in the country in the ongoing war against narcotics.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said Kenya is holding 660 Tanzanian drug dealers, Iran has 630 Tanzanians, South Africa 296 , China 265 and India 260.

Mr Majaliwa said 4,809 people had been arrested since February on drug-related charges in the country.

The drugs intercepted by the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority include heroin, cocaine, cannabis, khat and other controlled chemicals.

In February, Tanzania declared a war on drug trafficking, and questioned dozens of key business and political officials regarded as significant kingpins of the international drug trade.

“No stone will be left unturned in our fight,” Rogers Sianga, the first person to head the Drug Control and Enforcement Authority, said.


Mr Sianga ordered the arrest of all government officials who last year allowed the importation of 21 tonnes of chemicals reported as pesticides, but which could be used to make drugs.

READ: Tanzania in the spotlight over ‘bomb’ chemical seized in Pakistan


He said that his office had a list of 97 people including politicians, businessmen, musicians and religious leaders to be questioned in connection with drug-related offences.

The drug control office prepared a list of judges who had not handled drug cases adequately to prepare for their eventual impeachment, the anti-drug boss said.

READ: Two Tanzanian judges resign under unclear circumstances

The drug control agency was established in 2015 under the Drug Control and Enforcement Act which repealed the old law of 1995.

The office of the agency’s boss, however, remained vacant until Mr Sianga’s appointment early this year. Previously, drug dealing was handled by a unit of the police force and the Drugs Control Commission.

According to the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Tanzania is a significant transit country for illicit drugs, most notably heroin originating in Afghanistan and cocaine from South America, with a growing domestic user population.

READ: Tanzania extradites to US suspected drug kingpin

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President John Magufuli had distanced himself from engaging in negotiations with foreign nations for the release of Tanzanians prosecuted there. He said that his government will not negotiate the release of Tanzanians serving life or capital sentences in foreign countries, rather, they should be left to serve their sentences.

“They deserve the sentences and my government will not in any way try to get them out... the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation and our envoys abroad should not deal with such people,” Dr Magufuli said in Dar es Salaam.

He added: “If there are Tanzanians with life or capital sentences in foreign countries, they should be left to serve their sentences, the government will not in any way negotiate for their release.