The Drug Enforcement Commission has noted an increase in the number of drug addicts needing counseling and rehabilitation by 7.5 percentage points from 704 in 2017 to 757 in 2018.

In a statement on annual statistics, Sunday, Katongo also stated that those whom the commission attended to in the counselling and rehabilitation programme were aged between 9 and 50 years while the primary drugs or substances of abuse were cannabis, alcohol, tobacco, codeine, cocaine, heroin and diazepam.

“The Commission through the National Education Campaign Division (NECD) conducted a total of 2, 310 awareness activities from which a total of 486, 106 people were sensitised through institutions of learning, community and workplace programmes as part of the drug demand reduction strategy. Further, the Commission attended to 757 clients under the counselling and rehabilitation programme as compared to 704 in 2017, representing a 7.5 percentage increase,” Katongo stated.

Katongo stated that the Commission recorded 5,241 arrests countrywide for various drug related offences as compared to 5,757 in 2017, representing a reduction of nine per cent. Of the total number of people arrested, 375 were female and 4, 866 were male including 295 juveniles aged between 11 and 17 years.

“Further, a total of 1, 888 convictions were recorded against 77 acquittals with a further 2, 804 cases still pending in the courts of law at various stages. Overall, the Commission seized a total of 128.82 tons of cannabis plants and 22.30 tons of cannabis herb with the highest quantity recorded in Muchinga province followed by Southern and Eastern Provinces respectively.
Among other drugs seized by the Commission are Miraa (177.749 kg), Ephedrine (57.106 kg), Cocaine (2.315 kg) and Heroin (4.121 kg),” Katongo stated.

She stated that under the anti-money laundering Investigations Unit, the Commission arrested 77 people for various predicate and money laundering offences from 51 cases involving K 37,471, 220.18 and USD1,171,064.36.

“The Commission further seized various assets suspected to be proceeds of crime amounting to a total of K 71 million while cash seized amounted to K 13, 043, 732.02 and USD 59, 901.56. A total of twenty-five (25) persons were convicted for various predicate and money laundering offences from twenty-four (24) cases whilst five (05) were acquitted by the courts of law. The trends observed in the year under review indicate an increase in cases of fraud and embezzlement of public funds involving officers in the public sector mainly arising from abuse of authority of office. Other notable typologies included cybercrime cases involving ATM/Credit card cloning while the most prevalent type of money laundering used by suspects was conversion of proceeds of crime into livestock, real estate and motor vehicles,” stated Katongo.

“The Commission continues to fulfil its mandate of prevention and control of illegal cultivation, production, trafficking, abuse of narcotic and psychotropic drugs as well as prohibition and prevention of money laundering activities. In this regard, the Commission has since launched a Strategic Plan for the period 2018-2021 under the theme ‘a smart and value-centred Drug Enforcement Commission’ with a view to improve on the Institution’s operations and procedures. Further, the Commission has developed a service charter as a way of encouraging service excellence while providing a platform for members of the public to hold the Institution accountable for its performance.”