UN warns that instability may increase drug trafficking

The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Mozambique considered this Thursday that the armed violence in Cabo Delgado could open space for an increase in the activities of drug trafficking networks.

"The contexts of instability are naturally conducive to some criminal groups trying to take advantage of the situation for illicit trafficking. We are aware of this and our job is, together with the government, not to let these groups take advantage of the temporary weaknesses in the country," said Marco Teixeira.

He was speaking to the media in Maputo, on the sidelines of a thematic workshop that discussed perspectives for prison reform in Mozambique, organized by UNODC and the Ministry of Justice.

At a time when the country is pointed out by several international organizations as a "corridor for international drug trafficking," the head of UNODC believes that it is essential to strengthen control, although he admits difficulties due to the length of the coast, with more than 2,700 kilometers.

"We continue to work with the authorities that have maritime intervention capacity, but it is always difficult because it is a wide coast and this is a phenomenon that happens in different countries. But our job is to continue to fight this illicit trafficking that weakens the country," stressed Marco Teixeira, who adds that the number of seizures and arrests that the country has recorded in recent years shows progress.

"More drugs are seized and this means that, on one hand, the police forces and the State apparatus are able to detect these channels and routes of illicit trafficking. But there is a factor that needs to be thought about: if there is an increase in production, be it of heroin, cocaine, or synthetic drugs, it is normal that the channels and international flows have more availability of drugs," he warned.

Authorities in Kenya and Tanzania, countries to the north of the country, have increased surveillance in recent years, pushing traffickers southward toward the Mozambican coast, "in search of new routes and new markets."

Cabo Delgado province (north of the country) is rich in natural gas, but terrorized since 2017 by armed rebels, with some attacks claimed by the extremist group Islamic State.

The armed conflict between military forces and insurgents in Cabo Delgado has already caused more than 3,100 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project, and more than 800,000 displaced people, according to authorities.

Lusa Agency

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