Chad seizes three tonnes of cannabis, arrests 7

4637

Chadian authorities have seized nearly three tonnes of cannabis resin and arrested seven alleged foreign drug traffickers, the latest incident underscoring the scale of the trade through Africa’s deserts.

The drugs and the alleged traffickers, who were apparently from Mali and Niger, were paraded to the media in the capital of the Central African nation yesterday after the seizure in the north of the country last week.
“This is an established network that we have been monitoring,” said Mahamat Marc, the head of Chad’s anti-narcotics agency.
“(But) our men were lucky to come across this seizure by arresting these traffickers you see with nearly three tonnes of cannabis resin. The investigation has only just started and we will find out more,” he added.

The open and mostly ungoverned spaces of Africa’s Sahel-Sahara band is brimming with local rebels and bandits and increasingly criss-crossed by gangs of people smuggling drugs, weapons, people and basic goods.

Gunmen linked to al Qaeda also operate in the region and are believed to profit from parts of the trade.

A member of the security forces said the men were seized with two vehicles carrying the drugs, some weapons and food supplies in the Tibesti region.

They were travelling eastwards from Mali or Niger towards Egypt or Europe, he said.

Mahamat said the seizure highlighted the dangers of groups trying to take advantage of Chad’s vast northern regions but also proved that the security forces were stepping up their monitoring.

Four Malians were arrested two months ago in similar circumstances, he added.