Rabat - The Polisario Front announced Wednesday that it has arrested 19 Moroccan hashish traffickers and accused Rabat of organizing the network, according to the pro-Polisario news outlet Futuro Sahara. No official Moroccan communication has confirmed or refuted the claims so far.
Rabat – The Polisario Front announced Wednesday that it has arrested 19 Moroccan hashish traffickers and accused Rabat of organizing the network, according to the pro-Polisario news outlet Futuro Sahara. No official Moroccan communication has confirmed or refuted the claims so far.
In a statement issued by the separatist movement’s media wing, Polisario’s Ministry of Defense said on Monday it had arrested a group of 19 Moroccan citizens in Gueltat Zemmour (east of the Sable wall) southwest of Tindouf.
“On Sunday, around 7:30 p.m. in the Aghchan Lbyad area near Gueltat Zemmour, a unit of the Saharawi People’s Liberation Army managed to arrest a group of drug traffickers consisting of 19 Moroccan citizens carrying drugs to the eastern Wall of the Moroccan occupation,” wrote Futuro Sahara, which relayed the information Monday.
“These traffickers are part of a larger network that is dedicated to transporting hashish from the Rif to Egypt,” Polisario Front sources said. The Saharawi forces seized a 4×4 vehicle, model Toyota Hilux, where they reportedly planned to transport the cargo. The statement said that another vehicle managed to escape from the Saharawi borders.
“The Saharawi government condemns these serious and repeated acts of Moroccan occupation as part of its malicious policy involving the use and trafficking of poisons and drugs and its close connection with criminal organizations and terrorist groups,” added the statement.
In a second article relayed by the same source, a Sahrawi official stated that the Moroccan citizens “were held in a secret place and are awaiting trial,” and that “MINURSO visited the smugglers who were stopped by the Sahrawi army.”
The Polisario Front added in its statement that the operation was undertaken “within the framework of the efforts of the SADR to face the policies of Morocco aiming to flood the region with drugs.”
The Polisario Front claimed to have had seized last July 12 in the area of ??Guerguerat 2,100 kilos of hashish and a Toyota Land Cruiser with a Moroccan registration plate. “The traffickers fled in another support vehicle and we seized the merchandise and the vehicle,” said sources of the Saharawi organization.
A New York-based political analyst and UN expert who asked to speak on the condition of anonymity believes that “while all sorts of trafficking should be condemned and traffickers should be brought to justice, their detention by the Polisario and the claim that they would be persecuted by the separatist movement is illegal and against international law.”
Morocco World News source states that “persecution of and conviction of any drug traffickers can only be carried out by a sovereign state and within the boundaries of its sovereignty.” Yet this is not the case for the Polisario, who has no sovereignty over the territory in which it arrested and detained the 19 suspects.
The area east of the berm, which the Polisario considers as a “liberated territory” is a buffer zone over which the Polisario has no sovereignty.
“Therefore, the detention is against international law,” our source stated, adding that “the 19 suspects should be handed over to MINURSO, which is entrusted of monitoring the ceasefire agreement and ensuring that both the Polisario and Morocco abide by its provisions- which should hand them to Moroccan authorities and make sure they are prosecuted and given a fair trial.”
For many years, the Polisario has been accused of engaging in drug trafficking and terrorist activities. Our expert believes that “the action taken by the Polisario is a new attempt to deflect the accusations that Morocco has levelled against it in recent years with regards to drug trafficking and terrorism.”
In September 2016, Moroccan authorities arrested a large network of drug trafficking between the Tindouf camps and Northern Mali and indicated that the son of a Polisario “Minister” was involved in this international drug trafficking network.
In February 2016, a Mauritanian official told France 24 channel that the Polisario elements were heavily involved in the trafficking of cocaine from Latin America to Europe.
“The announcement made by the Polisario is an attempt to lure the international community into believing that it hands are clean and that, in fact, drug trafficking in the region is led by Moroccan traffickers,” concludes our source.