The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) has recorded a seven per cent reduction in drug-related arrests from 1,376 arrests recorded in the first quarter of 2018 to 1,279 recorded during the same period this year.
Giving an update on the drug interdictions from January to March, 2019, DEC public relations officer Theresa Katongo revealed that of the total arrests recorded for drug-related offences this year of 1,206 comprised males and 73 females.
She further stated that of the total arrests, 171 convictions were recorded with 112 cases disposed of through other legal provisions, while 996 cases were still pending at various stages of the court process at the end of the quarter under review.
“The Drug Enforcement Commission in the first quarter of 2019 recorded 1,279 arrests for various drug-related offences countrywide, representing a seven per cent reduction from 1,376 arrests recorded in the same period in 2018. Of the total arrests recorded for drug-related offences, 1, 206 comprised males and 73 females. The total arrests also included 78 juveniles. Of the total arrests, 171 convictions were recorded with 112 cases disposed of through other legal provisions, while 996 cases were still pending at various stages of the court process at the end of the quarter under review. The Commission seized cannabis plants, herb and seeds totalling 13.47 tonnes compared to 24.76 tonnes recorded in the same period in 2018, thereby, representing a reduction of 45.6 per cent, while other seizures included miraa (1.88 tonnes); ephedrine (7.29Kgs); heroin (7.7 Kgs) and cocaine (0.06 Kgs),” Katongo stated.
“Notable trends unearthed during the quarter included the increase in trafficking of dry miraa from Ethiopia through Zambia as a transit country to Europe, North America, South Africa, Namibia and Angola by identified cartels.”
And the Commission observed an increase in theft by public servant and fraudulent false accounting as predicate offences to money laundering.
“The Commission through the Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Unit (AMLIU) received a total of 47 reports during the first quarter of 2019, while 35 people were arrested from 14 cases involving a total of K13,937,421.61 and US $199,300. The Commission further arrested eight people for being in possession of counterfeit notes amounting to K6,600 and US $100 respectively. Meanwhile, 16 convictions were recorded in cases under the Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Unit during the quarter under review. Common trends observed included an increase in theft by public servant and fraudulent false accounting as predicate offences to money laundering, while other typologies noted include increases in self and third party money laundering mostly involving the acquisition of real estate and motor vehicles in the names of the suspects and other persons,” Katongo revealed.
And DEC also conducted 685 awareness activities from which a total of 130,051 people were sensitised through institutions of learning, community and workplace programmes as part of the drug demand reduction strategy.
“The Commission conducted 685 awareness activities through the National Education Campaign Division (NECD) as part of the drug demand reduction strategy. Further, the Commission attended to 251 clients aged between 13 and 44 years under the counselling and reintegration programme, with the primary drugs of abuse being cannabis, alcohol, heroin and codeine. The Commission has continued to monitor the trends of drug trafficking and money laundering with a view to curtailing the illicit vices as mandated in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances Act (Chapter 96) of the laws of Zambia. The Commission has since scaled-up efforts aimed at detecting illicit drug and money laundering activities through collaboration with other security wings and various stakeholders,” stated Katongo.
“We wish to warn perpetrators behind the vices of drug cultivation and trafficking to desist from the acts with the harvest season fast approaching as the Commission will be on-hand to ensure all offenders are brought to book. The Commission would like to thank its cooperating partners, other law enforcement agencies, members of the public and the media for the support received during the period under review. We urge members of the public to continue supporting the Commission even in the rest of the year.”