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Tanzanian police seize 8 tonnes of smuggled coffee

Christian Fernsby |
Tanzanian police have seized 8 tonnes of coffee that were being smuggled into neighboring Uganda, a senior police officer said on Wednesday.

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Babu Sanare, a senior police officer in Bukoba district in Kagera region, said the coffee was seized on Tuesday at 10:10 pm, adding that police also arrested three suspects in connection with the contraband.

Sanare said police were holding the three suspects for questioning.

In October last year, Tanzanian President John Magufuli ordered the immediate suspension of four senior police officers to pave way for an investigation into their alleged involvement in a multi-billion-shilling coffee cross-border smuggling network.

The move came amid allegations that senior police officers in Kagera region were involved in a cross-border smuggling cartel by providing police escorts to smugglers of coffee beans and other items.

Kagera, in northwestern Tanzania bordering Uganda, is among the biggest coffee-growing regions in the east African nation.

Coffee smuggling from Tanzania to neighboring Uganda has been rampant for many years, with criminal networks potentially raking in billions of shillings each year.

Tanzania, which produces mainly Arabica and a bit of Robusta coffee, is Africa's fourth-biggest coffee producer after Ethiopia, Cote d'Ivoire and Uganda.

In terms of cash crops, coffee is the third-biggest foreign exchange earner in the country after tobacco and cashew nuts.

Kagera region produces over 12,000 tonnes of coffee each year, with a significant amount of the crop reportedly illegally exported to Uganda due to better prices offered in the neighboring country.

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