The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) says it investigated money laundering related cases involving over K219 million, £25 million, and over US$3.6 million in 2020 resulting in the arrest of 123 persons countrywide.
The DEC says the financial offenses of money laundering came from both the public and private sectors with various frauds accounting for 57%, theft and embezzlement stood at 29%, and other offenses at 14%.
The Commission through its Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Unit (AMLIU) seized 103 real estate properties, 72 motor vehicles, and K104, 943, 262 held in various bank accounts and cash amounts of US$607, 841.40 and TSh1, 931,000.
In a press statement issued to the media in Lusaka, DEC Public Relations Officer Theresa Katongo stated that the Commission concluded 138 cases in 2020 which led to the arrest of 123 persons in 71 cases for money laundering involving K 111, 984,089.58 and US$ 6,000.
Ms Katongo disclosed that the Commission recorded fifteen 15 convictions involving 15 persons, and forfeiture of K30, 000 cash and K6, 973 held in bank accounts, from cases concluded from the current and previous years in court.
She said DEC also seized a total of K177, 300, and US$ 96,700 counterfeit notes in 2020.
Ms Katongo said the Commission arrested 4,335 persons in 2020 comprising 4,060 males and 275 females compared to 2019 where 5,352 persons were arrested.
She disclosed that Juveniles accounted for 316 persons who were arrested while foreign nationals were 64.
The DEC Spokesperson drug seizures reduced by 26 percent as 99.74 tonnes of Cannabis was seized in 2020 compared to 135.08 tonnes seized in 2019.
She said other drugs seized included 228.23Kg of Khat miraa, 1.86kg of Heroin, 606.06 grams of Cocaine, 3.09 grams of Codeine, 102.44 grams of diazepam, 2.41kg of Hashish cake, 26.45litres of Hashish oil and 1.96kg of Lidocaine,
Also seized was 27.70grams of diphenhydramine, 38.15grams of Methamphetamine, and 2.40 grams of Lignocaine, 91grams of Pethidine, and 27grams of Phenobarbitone.
Ms Katongo said the Commission secured 2,753 convictions out of the 3,112 drug-related cases concluded in court as at 31st December 2020 while 76 acquittals were registered and the remaining 283 were concluded on various outcomes.
She disclosed that the Commission recorded a drop in the number of people it sensitized on the dangers of engaging in illicit activities such as drug trafficking, abuse and money laundering, from 644,940 people in 2019 from 2,207 activities conducted, to 129,060 people in 2020 from 1,077 awareness activities.
Ms Katongo said the activities were conducted in institutions of learning, communities and workplaces despite having scaled down on face to face awareness activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said the Commission had 260 media awareness programs on both radio and television and produced a number of educational videos for online platforms.
Ms Katongo said a social media campaign on Facebook was initiated to occupy young people’s time in productive recreational activities during the COVID-19 pandemic as opposed to engaging in drug abuse, trafficking, and money laundering activities.
She added that the Commission managed to counsel and reintegrate 777 clients in 2020 compared to 797 clients in 2019.
She pointed out that the clients ranged from 13 and 51 years, with the primary drugs of abuse being cannabis, alcohol, heroin and codeine.
Ms Katongo said the Commission attended to 134 clients in 2020 under the Child Diversion Program that seeks to remove juvenile offenders from the Criminal Justice System by facilitating restorative measures such as psycho-social counselling and life-skills development as opposed to retributive interventions.
She said the Commission observed an increase in reports of cyber-crime stemming from money circulation schemes that saw a number of people being swindled by unregistered entities purporting to offer exaggerated profits and interests on various investment packages.
Ms Katongo said despite the ravaging of the Covid 19 pandemic, the DEC managed to execute its mandate by embracing new ideas in achieving its set goals.
She thanked the general public for their cooperation and support and urged Zambians to continue collaborating with the Commission by bringing information relating to illicit drug trafficking, abuse and money laundering.