The Drug Enforcement Commission in 2018 recorded a 9 percent reduction in arrests countrywide for drug related offences.
The Commission in 2018 recorded 5, 241 arrests countrywide for various drug related offences as compared to 5, 757 in 2017, representing a reduction of nine percent.
DEC Public Relations Officer Theresa Katongo says of the total number of people arrested, 375 were female and 4, 866 were male including 295 juveniles aged between 11 and 17 years.
Further, Ms. Katongo said a total of 1, 888 convictions were recorded against 77 acquittals with a further 2, 804 cases still pending in the courts of law at various stages.
She said overall, the Commission seized a total of 128.82 tons of cannabis plants and 22.30 tons of cannabis herb with the highest quantity recorded in Muchinga province followed by Southern and Eastern Provinces respectively.
Ms. Katongo said among other drugs seized by the Commission are Miraa (177.749 kg), Ephedrine (57.106 kg), Cocaine (2.315 kg) and Heroin (4.121 kg).
Under the Anti-money laundering Investigations Unit, Ms Katongo said the Commission arrested 77 people for various predicate and money laundering offences from 51 cases involving K37, 471, 220.18 and USD1, 171, 064.36.
She said the Commission further seized various assets suspected to be proceeds of crime amounting to a total of K71 million while cash seized amounted to K13, 043, 732.02 and USD 59, 901.56.
Ms. Katongo said a total of 25 persons were convicted for various predicate and money laundering offences from 42 cases whilst five were acquitted by the courts of law.
She said the trends observed in the year under review indicate an increase in cases of fraud and embezzlement of public funds involving officers in the public sector mainly arising from abuse of authority of office.
Ms. Katongo said other notable typologies included cybercrime cases involving ATM/Credit card cloning while the most prevalent type of money laundering used by suspects was conversion of proceeds of crime into livestock, real estate and motor vehicles.
Meanwhile, Ms. Katongo said the Commission through the National Education Campaign Division conducted a total of 2, 310 awareness activities from which a total of 486, 106 people were sensitised through institutions of learning, community and workplace programmes as part of the drug demand reduction strategy.
Ms. Katongo said the Commission attended to 757 clients under the counselling and rehabilitation programme as compared to 704 in 2017, representing a 7.5 percentage increase.
She said the clients attended to in the counselling and rehabilitation programme were aged between 9 and 50 years while the primary drugs or substances of abuse were cannabis, alcohol, tobacco, codeine, cocaine, heroin and diazepam.
Ms. Katongo said the Commission continues to fulfil its mandate of prevention and control of illegal cultivation, production, trafficking, abuse of narcotic and psychotropic drugs as well as prohibition and prevention of money laundering activities.
She said in this regard, the Commission has since launched a Strategic Plan for the period 2018-2021 under the theme ‘a smart and value-centred Drug Enforcement Commission’ with a view to improve on the Institution’s operations and procedures.
Ms. Katongo said the Commission has further developed a service charter as a way of encouraging service excellence while providing a platform for members of the public to hold the Institution accountable for its performance.
She has thanked various stakeholders that contributed to their operations in 2018 such as defence and security wings, government departments, health institutions, the press and other non-governmental stakeholders alike.
She expressed hope that members of the public will continue to support the fight against drugs, substances and alcohol abuse to realise the dream of a prosperous Zambia in which no one is left behind as envisioned in the Seventh National Development Plan among other national developmental programmes.