East Africans consume cocaine worth $160 million annually.
At the same time some 22 tonnes of the drug are trafficked via the region annually, a UN report reveals.
According to the latest report by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) year, 64 tonnes of heroin were trafficked to or through the East African region undetected between 2010 and 2013.
The Transnational Organised Crime in Eastern Africa: A Threat Assessment report estimates that up to 22 tonnes of the drug is trafficked to and through the East African region annually, with local consumption alone amounting to $160 million a year.
But in the last three years between 2010 and 2013, the only documented seizures by law enforcement officers in Tanzania, Kenya, the Seychelles and Mauritius were just a mere 1.6 tonnes. This means most of the cocaine is undetected.
The East African region is preferred by the Asian traffickers, mainly from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. The East coast of Africa has become both a destination and transit point because of the growth in local demand for hard drugs and heightened enforcement along the traditional Balkan routes.
This perhaps explains the uptake in 2012, with perhaps a dozen detections, mostly concealed in luggage. For instance, in 2011, 102 kilogrammes were seized in Mombasa but by 2013, the amount had increased to 194 kilos.
In the Tanzanian town of Tanga, the seizures increased from 145 kilos in 2010 to 813 kilos in 2013. These incidents the report states, favour the theory that trafficking has recently increased. Overall, seizures in the East African region stood at 1,011 kilogrammes in 2013 from 145 kilos.
Seizures along the Balkan Route, which transits Pakistan/Iran and Turkey before crossing southeast Europe, were down to 679 kilogrammes in 2010 from 1,804 in 2006 occasioned by, among others, the declining demand for heroin in Europe.
However, the UN says that the traffickers could have also devised other means, which are yet unknown, to get to Europe.