Tens of billions of rupees fuel drug trafficking in Mauritius annually. Certainly, the suspected traffickers caught in the net of Adsu and the MRA are only links in a chain headed by powerful backers. Who are these godfathers? Why can not the authorities go back to them? What is their profile ? As many questions as our investigation strives to elucidate.
Businessmen, traders and professionals, among others, are the main backers of Mauritian drug traffickers. This is reflected in our survey of relatives of traffickers, social workers, the Anti Drug and Smuggling Unit (Adsu), the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) and the Independent Commission against Corruption (Icac). , among others. They are considered as the links of drug trafficking for three main reasons: they have cash; they can easily obtain foreign currency without arousing suspicion; they have the means to legally transfer money abroad through a closed circuit.
The vast majority of the accused or suspects do not finance the drug trade themselves. Especially since in recent times, drug seizures amount to billions of rupees. This is what we think in the Adsu, MRA and Icac circles. "It is not possible for a person from a disadvantaged background or even the middle class to raise ten million rupees between friends or relatives to embark on this business at very high risk," agree say senior executives of these three institutions, while insisting that we must differentiate between small fish tazars and sharks.
In their opinion, small fish, or even small traffickers, will try to collect Rs 2 or Rs 3 million between friends, relatives and accomplices. The 'tazars' will certainly use godparents' funding to raise tens of millions of rupees. And sharks swim in deep waters with investments of hundreds of millions of rupees. "There must be powerful men in the shadows who pull the strings. Either with their savings, the profits of their companies or worse with black money from illegal activities or tax evasion. With the strength of their money, they can buy the silence of those caught in the nets of Adsu or MRA, "they say.
In these institutions, it is suspected that these "white-collar sponsors" play an important role also in the transfer of money. "Due to the strict supervision at the airport, it is no longer possible for one or a few people to carry large sums of money in or on their bags. Thus, it is more likely that it is these donors who make the transfer of money through their companies to foreign companies-companies operating for drug suppliers, "they argue.
These suspicions are confirmed by relatives of traffickers contacted by Le Défi-Plus. "What is the point of swaying their names while our future is assured by omerta? If my father had denounced the brain of his network, we would have been on the straw soon after. My father's money would have disappeared in just a few years. But his boss provides us a monthly income consistent as my father is alive, "says the son of a Portlouisien arrested for drug trafficking. This financial dependence, will tell us a lot of relatives of traffickers who are behind the bar, is very important. On the one hand, there will be no drastic change in their lifestyle and on the other hand, they will not yield to the temptation to denounce the godfather to avenge the fate of their loved ones. "It's a win-win situation," adds this young man.
Ratio 70: 30
The vast majority of the fifteen or so of our interlocutors do not hide the fact that drug trafficking is financed by "bigwigs", including businessmen, traders and crooked professionals. "Kan or get his bann dimoun the lor lari, fold prop ki zot pena. Bann Mr Clean, who is well respected in the business world, "said one interlocutor. "In public, they pretend to be saints. But in opacity, they want to grow their money at a dizzying pace, "he continues. Another is very cynical: "How can you imagine that a city dweller could rally at least 25 million to import drugs knowing that he runs the risk of losing everything? Not to mention the expense of a foreign mule. We are only 'wholesalers' who distribute to 'retailers'. "
One of them does not hesitate to admit that they are "the tree that hides the forest". They alone are in the front line. According to our overlap, for such a delicate and perilous business, everyone has a specific role against "risk-adjusted" remuneration. In general, the profit is shared at the 70:30 ratio between the sponsor (s) and the trafficker. "It's only natural that the sponsors get the lion's share. Imagine that they risk losing all the money in case the drug is seized. It's tens or even hundreds of millions of rupees that will go up in smoke, "he says.
Return on investment
In the business community, the involvement of economic actors in drug trafficking remains taboo. Virtually no one wants to get wet to share information or their opinion. "It remains to prove because, to this day, we do not remember that a businessman has been denounced or arrested for drug trafficking. It looks more like speculation. It's looking for a needle in a boot of
Hay, "say members of a private sector association who requested anonymity.
An Asset Manager does not rule out the possibility that some businessmen or big traders will be tempted by the financing of drug trafficking, whose profit margin hovers around 500% of the amount invested. "This is the highest return on investment of any financial transaction in Mauritius because the risk is too high. Investing in legal transactions does not pay big because the market is in contraction. Assets Managers focus on foreign investments that bring their clients back about 5% in dollars, "he explains.
More room for amateurism
All our interlocutors close to the traffickers are unanimous in saying that in the face of the authorities' sustained crusade against drug trafficking, "there is no more room for amateurism". According to the wife of a trafficker who is serving a long prison sentence, "it is very risky to leave the country with tens of millions of rupees in foreign currency because these bundles can be detected by the scanners to the 'airport. "
A trafficker, who has regained his freedom after 20 years of criminal servitude, will say that it is no longer worthwhile to operate solo as was the case in the past. "It used to be easier to transport big money. The surveillance at the airport was not as tight – from the parking lot to the boat door. Most Mauritians carried drugs. The mules were Mauritians, "he says.
But when Adsu tightened the net, it was necessary to spend more by offering the services of foreign mules. "This is where the traffickers are still fishing. These mules are amateurs who can not control their stress and their fears so as not to arouse suspicion at the airport. It is for this reason that some traffickers have opted for the transport of drugs by sea, as in the case of the backhoe loader, "he says.
Within the anti-drug squad, it is conceded that it does not have the means to go up the chain. "Our priority is drug seizure. We always try to find out who is funding the suspects, but they rarely reveal their acolytes, let alone their bosses. They take full responsibility even after having informed them that they run the risk of spending long years behind bars. The loyalty premium ", declares a senior officer of Adsu. On the side of Icac, one abounds in the same direction: "It is very difficult, if not impossible, to make a suspect reveal the name of his boss, the man who finances the traffic. In the case of money laundering, it is our intelligence service that can find nominees. It's not easy to get them wrong. They always maintain that they operate solo. We know that this is not true. "
The axis bookmakers-dealers-gambling houses
Icac, which is conducting very tight investigations into the laundering of money from shady or even illicit activities, is preparing to launch an offensive against an axis of drug-bookmakers-gambling-gaming-house dealers. from these investigations they are wicking into operations to launder dirty money.
"They are already in our sights. Our investigation is progressing fast. Soon, we will go on the offensive, "it is announced.
Their suspicions are on this axis since the suspects always present themselves as lucky. "To try to convince us that their property is not funded by dirty money, they produce a series of winning receipts at races and in casinos. The saying "too much night" applies well in their case. In doing so, they arouse suspicion, "said one in the field of investigators Icac. We comb through these receipts to first establish their authenticity and then make a ranking of bookmakers and gambling houses.
Some traders are also in the sights of Icac being suspected of trading the dirty money of traffickers. "We have information from a manipulation of the registers. The dirty money of the traffickers would be registered in the name of the city-dwellers. In fact, forex traders have a database of their customers' IDs. The crooked traders would launder dirty money on the names of these people, "says one. Ant work will be done to establish if this is the case. "According to our information, some of the traffickers and their sponsors do not go through the banking circuit. They exchange their rupees in dollars with forex dealers so as not to leave any traces, "they say.
Ally Lazer: "It's a parallel economy"
Contacted by Défi-Plus, Ally Lazer, of the Association of Social Workers of Mauritius (ATSM), said he had denounced white-collar sponsors for ages. "It is certainly not easy to go back to them. They lock the steps first by not having any communication with the trafficker directly. There is always an intermediary. Then they do not associate in any way with the goods. Their purpose is to have a huge return on their investment, "he says.
In his opinion, it is a parallel economy that is getting thicker. "As long as the traffic was millions of rupees, it was not so dangerous for our economy and by extension for the country. Political leaders must open their eyes to the threats that await us. It is a very powerful parallel economy that is strengthening. That they react before they are the hostages of this mafia, "he warns.
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