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Partnership to Counter Indian Ocean Drug Trafficking

This May, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Maritime Crime Programme (UNODC GMCP) brought together eleven littoral states and international partners at the annual Southern Route Partnership Meeting in Dar es Salaam with the aim of enhancing coordination and cooperation in countering drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean.

Due to the challenges posed in the surveillance of vast maritime areas in the Indian Ocean where illicit narcotics are trafficked, UNODC GMCP convened in the Southern Route Partnership (SRP) under the Indian Ocean Forum on Maritime Crime (IOFMC). SRP was created in 2016 and serves as an interactive space that encourages members of national drug enforcement agencies, donors, international organizations, and partner agencies from Indian Ocean States to enhance international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in countering drug trafficking on the Southern Route.

Heroin and methamphetamine produced in the Afghanistan is trafficked through three main routes: the Northern Route, the Balkan Route and the Southern Route, which includes a lengthy maritime component through the Indian Ocean. World events in recent years have contributed to an increase in use of the Southern Route.

‘The Covid period taught us that drugs are being trafficked more by sea than by air’, said Dinatsingh Mungla from Mauritius Revenue Authority Customs.

Nicolas Flury, Deputy Director of the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre, added to this, commenting that ‘The war in Ukraine showed us that more and more drug transport is being done by sea than by road, and after Covid it has stayed the same’. 

Insightful discussion took place with the attendance of the Japanese Ambassador and the Head of Delegation of the European Union in Tanzania. International partners including Combined Maritime Forces, US Naval Criminal Investigative Service and UK National Crime Agency and regional partners, such as the Trilateral Planning Cell, Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre and the Regional Coordination of Operations Centre, contributed with their expertise and experience.

‘Maritime crimes do not respect borders’, as per the Head of the EU Delegation to Tanzania, Ambassador Christine Grau, therefore maritime law enforcement and anti-narcotics agencies must collaborate across borders and work together at a regional and global level.

Further Information: UNODC GMCP in partnership with the United Republic of Tanzania, the Republic of Mozambique and the Republic of South Africa and with the financial support of the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement established the Trilateral Planning Cell in Maputo. This cell has members of the three countries with the aim to counter the influx of heroin in Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania by working closely together.

This meeting was funded by the Government of Japan under the project: “Strengthening Maritime Security and the Rule of Law at Sea in Africa to maintain a Free and Open Maritime Space toward a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” 

For more information, please contact:

Mr. David O’Connell (

Western Indian Ocean Programme Coordinator

Global Maritime Crime Programme

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Click here to visit the UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme website. 

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