Ephedrine drug smuggling rampant

HARARE - Harare is becoming a transit point for high-value drug Ephedrine, with couriers smuggling it by air.

Of late the Harare International Airport has seen a surge in cases of passengers trying to smuggle ephedrine.

A total of eight women have been arrested trying to smuggle the profitable drug without authorisation.

The narcotic substance is said to be less risky.

Documents in the Daily News possession reveal that four Zimbabweans and three South Africans were recently arrested for importing ephedrine without Medicine Control Authority of Zimbabwe licence.

They were found in possession of ephedrine ranging from 10 kg to about 40 kg.

The narcotic drug is valued at $3 000 per kg.

Health experts say the narcotic drug is a white powder and used to prepare medicines for treatment of asthma.

It is abused as a stimulant and appetite suppressant and gives the same effect as cocaine.
It is used to make crystal meth and is transported from India to South Africa.

Local medical doctor, Edgar Mhizha said Ephedrine makes one alert and focused. It might send shivers up and down the spine, makes skin sensitive and gives confidence and a happy feeling.

“Ephedrine raises heart beat and blood pressure. Long-term use can lead to heart attack and stroke in healthy people. It is very risky for anyone who has heart problems,” Mhizha said.

He said too much ephedrine can make one anxious and to get a racing heart, dry mouth and muscle.

 Airport officials who requested anonymity said daring traffickers stuff drugs into corpses and amputees stuff artificial limbs with illegal substances.

A United Nations office on Drugs and Crime 2010 World report estimates that profits derived from illegal narcotics trade amount to $600 billion annually and that add up to $1,5 trillion in drug money laundered through seeming legitimate enterprise associated with this trade.

Drug trade has greater value than most criminal activities and the country’s high poverty and unemployment levels provide a willing pool of youths for drug trafficking.

Zimbabwe says it is committed to fight against transnational crimes such as drug trafficking and money laundering.

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