East Africa

In recent years, large heroin consignments, of the order of hundreds of kilograms, shipped from ports on the coast of Iran and Pakistan on the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf (the Makran Coast), have attracted international attention, and some of this heroin is destined for Europe. This Southern route to Europe entails several modes of transport and transhipment points that may be combined in different ways. The heroin exported by boat from the Makran Coast seems to be of relatively high purity, according to data released by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a US-led multinational naval task force that carries out random searches on vessels sailing between the Makran Coast, the Arabian Peninsula and the coast of East Africa (CMF, 2015). The heroin shipped on the Southern route first reaches countries of the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa. Some may travel further north into the Red Sea as far as Egypt. A proportion of this heroin supplies local consumer markets in Africa and the Middle East, which appear to be growing (UNODC, 2014b). The heroin trade also seems to have destabilising effects in East Africa, with drug profits reportedly being used to fund armed groups in Kenya and possibly Somalia. However, significant and reportedly growing amounts are trafficked onward from East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula to other destinations, including Europe. Thus, heroin shipments may be broken down into smaller batches and sent by air to Europe directly or via southern and West Africa. Alternatively, some consignments are trafficked to South Africa, especially by sea but also by land (rail), before onward shipment to Europe.

Criminal organisations from several European countries, such as the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Ireland, have used South Africa as a departure and transhipment point for drug consignments for some time. Recently, as already mentioned, Turkish traffickers have become active in South Africa. Other criminal organisations active here include West African, especially Nigerian, and East African OCGs, as well as criminal organisations from Pakistan. There are indications that West African (Nigerian) OCGs control much of the heroin trafficking activity through East Africa and are the main receivers of the considerable cash profit derived. For example, Europol has noted that they trade with OCGs based in source countries, such as Pakistan, to obtain heroin and traffic it to Europe, relying primarily on couriers. They are also active in the intra-EU distribution of heroin and use the presence of Nigerian diaspora communities in many Member States to their advantage.

Finally, the Southern route also involves smaller amounts of heroin shipped by air couriers and freight, as well as postal parcels, from Pakistan directly to Europe, especially the United Kingdom.

(From Europol Drugs Market Report 2016)

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