By Arnaldo Cuamba
The Mozambican authorities intercepted a boat carrying more than 1500 kilograms of heroin, supposedly from Iran on Saturday, in Pemba Bay, Cabo Delgado province, The general director of Mozambique’s National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC), Domingos Jofane, confirmed on wednesday.
When the traffickers became aware of the interception, they set the boat on fire using a gas bottle and threw themselves into the sea, he told the press. The fire destroyed the evidence, which, unless the traffickers confess, may make it difficult to secure a conviction when the case comes to trial.
According to Jofane of the 15 occupants, three died during the escape attempt, while 12 were rescued are now being held in Pemba where they will be accused of international drug trafficking.
The operation was based on a coordinated intelligence action between the different actors in the fight against drug trafficking.
“We learnt of the approach of a boat that was carrying prohibited cargo – namely heroin. So we put out to sea to intercept this evil, and the criminals set fire to the boat”.
The heroin trade is worth up to $100 million per year to the Mozambican economy and is probably the country’s second most valuable export – and its movement through the country is facilitated by senior government officials.
Some 10 to 40 tonnes of heroin enter Mozambique by sea on dhows (sailing boats) every year, in addition to an unknown amount smuggled in by container through the port of Nacala. The heroin is then taken by road to Johannesburg for delivery to Europe, the reports said.