The Smuggler’s Paradise


By Sydney S Chellen

Nestled amidst the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is a picture-perfect paradise, renowned for its pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant culture. Yet, beneath this idyllic façade lies a darker reality: Mauritius is grappling with a severe drug trafficking problem, casting a shadow over its reputation as a tranquil island getaway.

Drug trafficking in Mauritius is as follows:

• Mauritius is a popular destination for traffickers of traditional drugs such as heroin and cannabis, as well as a transit point for drugs destined for other countries.
• The illicit drug trade has infiltrated Mauritius’s veins, leaving a trail of addiction, crime, and despair. Heroin, the island’s most prevalent drug, has trapped a staggering 0.91% of the population, fuelling a cycle of poverty, violence, and social disintegration.
• The emergence of synthetic drugs has compounded the crisis. These cheap, highly toxic substances have infiltrated the streets, preying on the vulnerable and exacerbating the island’s drug-related problems.
• The devastating impact of drug trafficking extends far beyond the realm of individual addiction.
• The government has implemented various measures to combat drug trafficking and abuse, such as the Anti-Drug and Smuggling Unit (ADSU), the methadone substitution therapy, the needle exchange programme, and the treatment and rehabilitation centres.

However, the drug situation in Mauritius remains a serious challenge, as the syndicates allegedly enjoy significant protection from politicians elite and drive widespread corruption across state institutions.

Consider this story: R. had always dreamed of visiting Mauritius, the island nation in the Indian Ocean. He had seen pictures of its white sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons, and lush green mountains. He had heard stories of its rich culture, diverse cuisine, and friendly people. He had imagined himself relaxing in a luxury resort, sipping cocktails, and enjoying the sun. But R.  was not in Mauritius for a vacation. He was there for a job. A very dangerous and illegal job. He was a drug smuggler, working for a notorious syndicate that operated across Asia and Africa. He had been hired to transport a large shipment of heroin from Pakistan to Mauritius, where it would be distributed to local dealers and then exported to other countries.

R. had flown to Mauritius with a fake passport and a suitcase full of clothes. He had checked into a cheap hotel near the airport, where he waited for his contact to arrive. His contact was a man named J.C., who worked as a courier for the syndicate. J.C. had the heroin hidden in a car that he had rented from a local agency. He was supposed to meet R. at the hotel, give him the keys to the car, and then leave. But things did not go as planned. As R.  was waiting in his room, he heard a loud knock on the door. He opened it and saw two men in plain clothes, holding badges and guns. They were police officers, and they had come to arrest him.

“R. , you are under arrest for drug trafficking. We have a warrant for your arrest and a search warrant for your room. Do not resist or we will use force,” one of the officers said.

was shocked and scared. He did not know how they had found him. He did not know what to do. He tried to slam the door shut, but the officers pushed it open and entered the room. They handcuffed him and searched his suitcase. They did not find any drugs, but they found his fake passport and some cash.

“Where is the heroin, R. ? We know you have it. We have been tracking you since you landed in Mauritius. We have been watching your every move. We know you are working for the syndicate. We know you are waiting for your contact to deliver the car. Tell us where the car is and who your contact is, and we might go easy on you.” The other officer said.

did not say anything. He knew he was in big trouble. He knew he could not trust the police. He knew they would torture him and lock him up for life. He knew he had to escape somehow. He looked around the room, looking for a way out. He saw a window that faced the street. He saw a fire escape that led to the roof. He saw a chance. He kicked one of the officers in the groin, making him drop his gun. He grabbed the gun and shot the other officer in the shoulder, making him fall to the floor. He ran to the window and smashed it with the butt of the gun. He climbed out of the window and onto the fire escape. He ran up the stairs and reached the roof. He saw the car that J.C. had rented parked across the street. He saw J.C. sitting in the driver’s seat, looking confused and scared. He saw his only hope. He jumped off the roof and landed on the bonnet of the car. He smashed the windshield with the gun and pointed it at J.C..

“Drive, J.C., drive! The cops are after us! We have to get out of here!” he shouted.

J.C. did not hesitate. He started the car and drove away, leaving behind a trail of blood and glass. He did not know what had happened, but he knew he had to follow R. ’s orders. He knew R.  was his boss, and he knew the syndicate would kill him if he disobeyed. They drove through the streets of Mauritius, dodging traffic, and pedestrians. They drove past the beaches, the lagoons, and the mountains. They drove past the resorts, the restaurants, and the shops. They drove past the beauty, the culture, and the people. They did not see any of it. They only saw the road ahead, and the police cars behind. They drove until they reached the port, where they had a boat waiting for them.

They had planned to use the boat to transport the heroin to another country, where they would sell it for a huge profit. They had planned to leave Mauritius as soon as possible, and never come back. They had planned to live the life of a smuggler, and never look back. But their plans had changed. They had to use the boat to escape from the police and save their lives. They had to leave Mauritius as soon as possible, and never come back. They had to live the life of a fugitive, and never look back. They abandoned the car and ran to the boat. They threw the heroin on board and started the engine. They sailed away from the port, and away from Mauritius. They sailed into the open sea, and into the unknown. They had escaped from the police, but they had not escaped from their fate. They had left behind a trail of violence, crime, and corruption. They had left behind a country that was struggling with drug abuse, addiction, and trafficking. They had left behind a paradise that was turning into a hell. They had left behind their dreams and their humanity.

To the ‘drug smugglers out there,’ what are you going to do? Do you want to be the next R.  and J.C.?  I implore you to reconsider your path. Find another dream. The allure of easy money and fleeting thrills comes at an unbearable cost. Your actions perpetuate a cycle of suffering that destroys lives and communities.

The island’s natural beauty and the resilience of its people offer a glimmer of hope. By joining forces and help the government in their effort to dismantle the syndicates that fuel this illicit trade we can restore peace to our streets and reclaim our paradise. Here are some of the ways you can help:

• Report any suspicious activities or persons related to drug trafficking, sales, manufacturing or distribution to the Anti-Drug and Smuggling Unit (ADSU) of the Mauritius Police Force. The ADSU is responsible for arresting drug offenders, locating and destroying illicit cannabis plantations, preventing the entry of illicit drugs at the airport, seaport, and postal services, and preventing and detecting smuggling. You can contact the ADSU by calling the hotline number 148 or by visiting their website.

• Support the victims of drug abuse and encourage them to seek treatment and rehabilitation. Drug abuse is a health issue rather than a criminal one, and the government has implemented policies to decrimalise drug use and provide methadone substitution therapy, needle exchange programmes, and counselling services to drug addicts. There are also several treatment centres that offer detox programmes and aftercare support, such as the Idrice Goomany Treatment Centre, the Centre d’Accueil de Terre Rouge, and the National Centre for Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts. You can help by referring drug addicts to these services or by volunteering or donating to these centres.

• Raise awareness and educate yourself and others about the dangers and consequences of drug abuse and trafficking. The government has developed a National Drug Control Master Plan 2019-2023 that outlines the strategies and actions to prevent and reduce drug demand and supply, as well as to strengthen the institutional and legal framework for drug control. You can access this document online and learn more about the drug situation in Mauritius and the government’s response.

You can also participate in the sensitization campaigns conducted by the ADSU and the National Agency for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Substance Abusers (NATReSA), which target different layers of the population, especially the youth and the vulnerable groups. You can also share reliable and accurate information about drugs with your family, friends, and community, and discourage them from engaging in drug-related activities.

Mauritius deserves a brighter future, one free from the shackles of drug trafficking!

*  *  *

Sydney S. Chellen was a Senior University Lecturer, at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, UK. During his teaching career, he has written several educational books. His book: ‘The Essential Guide to the Internet for Health Professionals’ became a best seller in the UK and sold in North America. Since his retirement, he has taken up writing novels. His novel: ‘The man who lost his soul’ is published by GPS Books UK, and it is available, for a limited period, at: 

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 1 December 2023

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