Narcotics Flows Through Eastern Africa: the Changing Role of Tanzania and Mozambique

22nd March 2022
Author: Alma Boustati

In the last few decades, the southern route’s use for drug trafficking gained prominence as increased law enforcement and unrest in the Middle East made the traditional ‘Balkan route’ less viable. This southern route transports drugs, mainly heroin, from its production in Afghanistan to Pakistan or Iran, to eastern Africa – including Tanzania and Mozambique- and consequently to South Africa, after which it is moved to Europe (Aucoin, 2018; Otto & Jernberg, 2020). Notable targets of trafficking via the southern route have been the United Kingdom, Belgium, and the Netherlands (UNDOC, 2015). It is difficult to know for certain the quantities of drugs being trafficked through eastern Africa, but the literature puts it at up to 40 tonnes, with 5 of those staying behind, while the rest is transported overseas (Haysom et al., 2018a, 2018b). Due to various political and economic shifts, methamphetamines produced in Afghanistan recently also began to be trafficked alongside heroin shipments through the southern route, with recent estimates putting it at 50% of drugs being trafficked (Eligh, 2021). Most of the literature agrees that, in recent years, drug trafficking routes in eastern Africa have shifted due to political changes, but there is no evidence to suggest that the amount being trafficked have decreased.

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Suggested Citation

Boustati, A. (2022). Narcotics flows through eastern Africa: the role of Tanzania and Mozambique. K4D Helpdesk Report. Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/K4D.2022.074


22nd March 2022


Continent: Africa

Country: Mozambique, Tanzania