Dar es Salaam. Police at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) yesterday arrested a British national for allegedly smuggling 22 kilogrammes of khat whose value was yet to be established.
Mr Faiz Abdullah Ali, 55, was arrested on Friday when he was about to board an Emirates airline that was destined for London via Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Airport police commanding officer Martin Otieno told journalists yesterday that the suspect was arrested after a screening machine detected khat in his luggage.
“After suspecting his luggage a thorough screening was done and we noticed that he was carrying the illegal drugs,” he said.
He said, the suspect wrapped the khat in a piece of cloth to trick security officers as well as pass undetected on the scanners.
Mr Otieno said preliminary interrogations showed that the man was a British citizen but was born in Kismayu Somalia. Further information showed that the suspect resided and worked in London as a consultant.
According to Mr Otieno, the man visited Tanzania as a tourist and records show he was a frequent visitor to Tanzania, saying the last time he visited was on July 20. He said, investigations were ongoing to establish the value of the drugs as well as identify other people who are involved in the business.
He warned that police would not hesitate to take serious actions against anyone who would use Tanzanian airports as routes to transport drugs and other illegal stuffs.
The arrest comes barely a few days after Tanzanians were caught trying to smuggle out 201 live tortoises to Malaysia through the JNIA. Police and wildlife officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism at the airport arrested the duo as they tried to smuggle the animals.
The government has proposed new and tougher laws to curb drug trafficking in the country, which has become a major gateway for international drug-cartels.
The Drug Control and Enforcement Bill, 2014 was moved in Parliament in Dodoma in March as MPs pointed fingers to corruption and political interference as the main impediment in the war against drug trafficking.
Provisions in the new law included establishment of an independent agency to coordinate the war against the vice. The body would replace the current drugs commission whose mandate is only limited to public campaigns.
It will be known as The Drug Control and Enforcement Authority for the Prevention and Control of Substance Abuse and Drug Trafficking.