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Last updated: 10:20:51 PM GMT(+03) Saturday, 10, April, 2010

Tanzanian man arrested in Yemen for drug trafficking: Could face death penalty

By Shaher Abdulhak Saleh

A TANZANIAN national has been arrested in Yemen after authorities discovered a huge stash of narcotic drugs hidden in two fishing boats.

Drug trafficking is a serious offence in Yemen, usually punishable by death.

According to media reports from Yemen, police sources said the two fishing boats were apprehended 13 nautical miles off the port of Sher City in the western Hadramout Province.

When searched, they were found carrying a large consignment of drugs in a total of 162 bags.?

The Tanzanian national was among two Africans, the other said to be a Kenyan, caught on one of the boats. Five Yemenis were arrested on the second boat. ??The identity of the Tanzanian is yet to be released. Both he and the Kenyan are believed to be in their mid-30s, while the five Yemenis were aged between 19 and 52.

?Last month, Yemeni authorities destroyed four tonnes of hashish and six million pills of amphetamines, all said to have a total street value of well over $83m. ??About 75 suspects including 47 Yemenis, 12 Pakistanis, 10 Iranians, two Syrians, two Saudis, one Eritrean and one Ethiopian, are reported to have all faced drug trafficking and drug trade charges in the country in recent months. ??Some of these trials have been completed with a number of those found guilty sentenced to death and others to serve lengthy prison sentences. Other trials are still in progress.

According to Yemeni authorities, the traffickers often use boats to bring in huge quantities of hashish and pills ? mainly amphetamines ? as it is easy to avoid security guards along the country?s long coastline.

The increase in drug trafficking is blamed on a rise in demand from Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia.??The latest arrest of the Tanzanian and other suspects came hours after Yemen earlier in the day reported that 18 Somali migrants had drowned and at least 29 others gone missing after a smuggling boat with 88 Somalis aboard sank in the Gulf of Aden.

??The boat apparently went under in rough weather. ??African refugees and migrants continue to risk death crossing the dangerous sea route where several have been killed and dozens gone missing so far this year.

??Many displaced Africans die while crossing into Yemen, when overcrowded boats capsize or when smugglers force them to swim in deep waters to reach the Yemeni coast.

??They usually flee deteriorating situations in their homelands rocked by civil war, poverty and famine. ??In the last few days, Yemen’s interior ministry said about 340 Africans including women and children had been intercepted as they attempted to enter the country illegally. ??The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said 146 Africans drowned on their way to Yemen via the sea, although more than 25,000 got to their destination safely.





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