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MORE than US$ 1.3 million was last year seized by the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) from illicit financial transactions.

DEC public relations officer, Theresa Katongo said that the Commission arrested 77 people for various predicate and money laundering offences from 51 cases involving K 37, 471, 220.18 and USD 1, 171, 064.36.

Ms Katongo said that the Commission also seized various assets suspected to be proceeds of crime with value amounting to a total of K 71 million while cash seized amounted to K 13, 043, 732.02 and USD 59, 901.56.

She said in a statement that a total of 25 persons were convicted for various predicate and money laundering offences while five were acquitted.

“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,”  she said.

Ms Katongo said that cybercrime cases involving ATM/Credit card cloning was also recorded.

She however pointed out that the most prevalent type of money laundering used by suspects was conversion of proceeds of crime into livestock, real estate and motor vehicles.

And Ms Katongo said that 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 (9) percent.

She said that 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, 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,” said Ms Katongo.

Ms Katongo stated that 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.

She said that a total of 757 clients under the counselling and rehabilitation programme were attended to last year as compared to 704 in 2017, representing a 7.5 percentage increase.

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