Tanzania's Drug Control and Enforcement Agency (DCEA) has arrested a Tanzanian woman on 17 September for her involvement in trafficking drugs to India

James Kaji, Commissioner of DCEA made a statement at a press conference on the arrest and stated that the arrest was made during a sting operation carried out by the agency in Dar es Salaam, lasting several days.

The arrested lady, Mary Edson was detained on charges of mailing two books to India, containing 450 grams of heroin. She confessed about sending drugs to India on at least three occasions through the same method. Edson claimed that she supplied the consignment of drugs through post on the directions of her Nigerian partner, who has now moved from Tanzania to Uganda and operates a drug network from there.

Commissioner James Kaji highlighted, “according to Edson, the books she was shipping were for her boyfriend in Uganda who wanted them mailed to a friend in India. She has done this at least three other times.”

However, on investigations, a heroin weighing machine was found from Edson’s house, underlining that she was apprised about trafficking heroin and was willingly shipping them to India.

Tanzanian agencies argued that this is a ‘new tactic’ of drug trafficking in which foreign drug traffickers marry Tanzanian women and later use them as mules to transfer drugs.

However, this is not the first case that has highlighted the Tanzanian angle in drug trafficking to India. In a similar case, two years ago, Jalandhar Police arrested a Tanzanian woman with 500 grams of heroin on September 3, 2018. The arrested trafficker Dorin Edson Nejuda stayed at New Delhi's Vikas Puri and was trafficking drugs to Punjab and Delhi.

The recent arrest made by the Tanzanian authorities reflects the pearls of a new string of heroin trafficking involving Pakistan, and African countries.

“Besides the African nations, this is a worrying trend for Indian security agencies as they will now have to keep a watch on new Southern routes, besides the traditional routes of trafficking. Indian authorities should investigate the matter and find out about the ‘Indian friend’ of Mary Edson’s partner, who was supposed to receive a heroin package” said an officer deployed in a central security establishment.

According to the UNODC's World Drugs Report, at least 87% of the global opium is produced in Afghanistan. Most of the opium fields are controlled by the Pakistani ISI, which later transports opium poppy to Pakistan for processing into heroin and then traffics it to all over the world.

Governments of Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa have seized back to back heroin consignments, originating from Pakistan. Pakistani nationals have also been arrested in some of these cases. Earlier, the ‘Golden Crescent’ was the most prominent route used by the ISI to traffic heroin. However, these seizures highlight that a new Southern route of drug trafficking has been established comprising a well-established supply chain.

Pakistani dhows and boats carry heroin to the coastal countries of Africa including Tanzania and Mozambique. From these countries, the heroin is then trafficked downwards South of the African continent and elsewhere in the world. Due to back to back seizures of Pakistani drugs in the Indian Ocean Region and along the Line of Control (LoC) by Indian security agencies, Pakistan is now using this new route to traffic drugs to India.

Numerous ISI operatives have established their bases in Tanzania ,Mozambique and Kenya and are running a massive drug nexus from their African bases, generating huge revenue for the Pakistani agency.

On 5 February 2014, Tanzanian authorities arrested four Pakistani drug traffickers and seized around 200 kg of heroin, valuing around Euros 10 million. Talking to the media, spokesperson of Tanzanian police Godfrey Nzowa said, “the suspects were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday from a dhow that was sailing from the island of Zanzibar to the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.” According to the Canadian media, more than 1.5 tons of heroin consignments were seized by a Canadian patrolling warship in the Tanzanian territorial waters in the year 2013 alone.

Similarly, on 22 February 2011, Tanzanian police arrested two Pakistani traffickers and seized 179 kgs of heroin from them, valuing Euros 9 million. Then talking to the press, Godfrey Nzawa of Tanzanian police said, “this is the single biggest heroin bust in the country’s history.” Very recently, security agencies of Mozambique caught a Pakistani boat at the Biera port on April 30 this year and arrested twelve Pakistani nationals. Similarly, Tanzanian agencies arrested 26 Pakistani nationals while they were carrying drugs in dhows to Tanzania. The traffickers were later released after back channel intervention by the ISI.

Dozens of news reports have emerged in the past couple of years about seizure of Pakistani origin heroin in African countries, valuing an unfathomable amount. The remaining consignments have already been trafficked to their respective destinations..

Besides India, the revelations made by arrests are problematic for Pakistan as well. This unchecked trafficking of drugs by Pakistani ISI through its proxies must have been observed by the FATF, which is supposed to review Pakistan’s performance on the FATF Action Plan in October 2020.

Interestingly, Pakistan is a party to several global conventions and agreements on drugs and is a member of multiple groups dedicated to check drug trafficking. Pakistan has been a party to the Ministerial Declaration of 2019, drafted during the 62" Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The country, in 2018, was elected as the Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Expert Group Meeting on International Challenge Posed by the non-medical Use of Synthetic Drugs. Pakistan is also serving as a member of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

Foreign Policy observers believe that Pakistan could soon be charged for violation of the conventions and the positions that it holds at UN and multilateral forums on grounds of its failure to check the heroin trafficking as well as sponsoring proxies to distribute drugs everywhere in the world.