Dar es Salaam. With most of the loopholes for smuggling illicit drugs into the country sealed, dealers are now using industrial chemicals to manufacture illegal substances in the form of sweets or candy and sell them to schoolchildren, the Drugs Control and Enforcement Agency (DCEA) said yesterday.
DCEA said there was evidence that drug dealers were now selling improvised illicit drugs to unsuspecting schoolchildren and adults.
The authority’s assistant commissioner, Ziliwa Machibya told reporters yesterday that preliminary investigations have established that there were three types of sweets made using precursor chemicals which are sold in the streets at between Sh200 and Sh300. He said drug dealers are also manufacturing drugs which are not in the list of drugs endorsed by the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) that have been found to have the same effect like heroin and cocaine.
Mr Machibya was speaking shortly after a news briefing on the forthcoming convention on the effect of drug abuse and trafficking to artists set for Wednesday this week.
He said the authority was working on information from their sources that the sweets are being sold at some schools.
“They know the law is very categorical on drugs like heroin and cocaine so these people have decided to use backyard factories to produce new drugs with similar effects like heroin and cocaine using precursor chemicals,” he said.
Precursor chemicals, also known as scheduled substances or drug precursors, are chemicals that are known to be used in the illegal manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychoactive substances.
Mr Machibya said loopholes for drugs dealers in Tanzania and many other countries have been sealed, thus the dealers are designing new ways to keep their business afloat. Speaking earlier, the DCEA Commissioner General Mr Rogers Siyanga said Tanzania has significantly reduced the smuggling of narcotic drugs into the country, thanks to enhanced surveillance at entry points by the authority and other organs.
He said by end of this year the authority will launch a major study to establish the magnitude of drug abuse.