The rate at which illicit drugs are spreading across Botswana has spiraled in recent years, the local Narcotics, Fauna and Flora squad reports. The year 2012 recorded the highest number of illicit drug related arrests nationwide when compared to previous years. Arrests made by the Narcotics, Fauna and Flora investigations squad in 2011 increased by 27% in the year 2012.
However a total weight of 440.4kgs worth of cannabis has been confiscated in 2012 as compared to the 914.054kg in 2011.The squad explained that it’s not the quantity of drugs that determines the spread but rather the number of arrests made.
Recently, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released their annual World Drug Report 2012 in which they expressed concern at the manner that illicit drug market trends were now seemingly shifting towards developing countries as the markets in developed countries proved to be saturated.
“One key development to monitor will be the ongoing shift away from developed to developing countries, which would mean a heavier burden for countries relatively less equipped to tackle it.
Demographic trends suggest that the total number of drug users in developing countries would increase significantly, owing not only to those areas’ higher projected population growth, but also their younger populations and rapid rates of urbanization,” reads the report.
“One way or the other this shift affects us; in the past our country was used as one of the transit countries for drug traffickers but now research has shown that some of our own citizens are users. There is no use in denying that drugs are everywhere in Botswana,” said Miriam Kilano, Officer Commanding at the Narcotics, Fauna and Flora Squad.
Kilano likened the spreading rate of drugs in Botswana to that of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in recent years. She mentioned that, just like any other investigations, they have their limitations because they work based on the information they receive from informers as well as their own surveillance techniques. She mentions that because Botswana is at times treated as a transit country, it’s quite possible that the portion of drugs that they have intercepted does not depict the overall scale of the drug trafficking in the country.
Kilano is of the view that in the future the country is likely to experience an escalation in terms of Drug distribution and drug abuse.
Kilano said that their research was not able to categorize or distinguish whether the majority of those arrested were carrying illegal drugs for distribution or for personal use. They were, however, able to measure the amount that the suspects were carrying at the time of arrest.
According to Kilano, the Drugs and substance act indicates how sentencing is carried out depending on the quantity of drugs found on guilty persons.
The UNODC report states that Cannabis was and continues to be the world’s most wide-spread illicit drug; it further reveals that while cannabis use is stable or declining in several developed countries, it is still increasing in many developing ones.
The trend did not escape Botswana, as cannabis is counted amongst the two most common drugs of concern in Botswana alongside cocaine and ecstasy. Of the overall arrests made in 2012, 95% of the suspects were Batswana found with cannabis, and 4% of Zimbabweans while South Africans and Zambians formed 0.3% and Tanzanians, Americans, Indians, Bangladesh and Namibians were categorized within the 0.7% margin. In 2012, the squad confiscated 112.7659g worth of cocaine as compared to the 35.71 in 2011.