News / Africa

    Methamphetamine 'Growing Concern' for West Africa

    A new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) warns that the production of methamphetamine is a "growing concern" for West Africa.  The report, which addresses many forms of transnational crime in the region, also suggests that recent gains in the fight against cocaine trafficking may have been overstated.  

    Much of the methamphetamine produced in West Africa is headed for East Asia, though South Africa is a major secondary market.  Two methamphetamine laboratories were detected in Nigeria in 2011 and 2012.

    The report says that while the flow of methamphetamine out of West Africa is relatively new, the income it generates is “remarkably high.”

    Pierre Lapaque, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime representative for West and Central Africa, says methamphetamine is attractive to West African drug producers because it is so easy to make.  

    “It’s easy to prepare," he said. "You can do that in your kitchen, if you wish.  You go on the Internet, you get the recipe and you cook.  As long as you have the good ingredients you can cook it easily.”

    West Africa has long been a notorious hub for cocaine trafficking. Because of its location and weak law enforcement institutions, the region is a convenient stopping point for cocaine produced in South America and intended for sale in Europe.

    The trafficking has further weakened state institutions in some countries, and the U.N. report says "cocaine-related corruption has clearly undermined governance in places like Guinea Bissau."

    The new report notes that the flow of cocaine in West Africa peaked in 2007 at 47 tons, but decreased to 18 tons by 2010 in response to efforts to combat maritime and air shipments.  However, the report also says that there is debate about whether the flow of cocaine has actually decreased, or whether “traffickers have simply found less detectable ways of moving the drug.”

    Lapaque said that data has been limited since 2010, but that officials believe the trafficking of cocaine is now back up to between 30 and 35 tons.

    “The problem is that the region is still facing the same problems - the problem of governance, the problem of rule of law, the problem of corruption," Lapaque said. "Things have improved, but they haven’t dramatically improved, so there is room for improvement.”  

    He said it was important to target the traffickers rather than particular types of shipments.  He said this was because criminal networks are often involved in many different forms of illegal shipments - from drugs to arms to illegal migrants.  

    "If for example you open a container here, you open one ton of cocaine," Lapaque said. "That’s brilliant - you have stopped one ton of cocaine. But if 20 tons are going through another channel and you haven’t dismantled the criminal network that was actually sending this one ton of cocaine, you are just digging in the sea. You finish the day exhausted, and at the end of the day you haven’t achieved anything."

    The release of the report Monday was timed to coincide with a meeting of the Mediation and Security Council of the West African regional body ECOWAS. A new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) warns that the production of methamphetamine is a "growing concern" for West Africa.  The report, which addresses many forms of transnational crime in the region, also suggests that recent gains in the fight against cocaine trafficking may have been overstated.  

    Much of the methamphetamine produced in West Africa is headed for East Asia, though South Africa is a major secondary market.  Two methamphetamine laboratories were detected in Nigeria in 2011 and 2012.

    The report says that while the flow of methamphetamine out of West Africa is relatively new, the income it generates is “remarkably high.”

    Pierre Lapaque, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime representative for West and Central Africa, says methamphetamine is attractive to West African drug producers because it is so easy to make.  

    “It’s easy to prepare," he said. "You can do that in your kitchen, if you wish.  You go on the Internet, you get the recipe and you cook.  As long as you have the good ingredients you can cook it easily.”

    West Africa has long been a notorious hub for cocaine trafficking.  Because of its location and weak law enforcement institutions, the region is a convenient stopping point for cocaine produced in South America and intended for sale in Europe.

    The trafficking has further weakened state institutions in some countries, and the U.N. report says "cocaine-related corruption has clearly undermined governance in places like Guinea Bissau."

    The new report notes that the flow of cocaine in West Africa peaked in 2007 at 47 tons, but decreased to 18 tons by 2010 in response to efforts to combat maritime and air shipments.  However, the report also says that there is debate about whether the flow of cocaine has actually decreased, or whether “traffickers have simply found less detectable ways of moving the drug.”

    Lapaque said that data has been limited since 2010, but that officials believe the trafficking of cocaine is now back up to between 30 and 35 tons.

    “The problem is that the region is still facing the same problems - the problem of governance, the problem of rule of law, the problem of corruption," Lapaque said. "Things have improved, but they haven’t dramatically improved, so there is room for improvement.”  

    He said it was important to target the traffickers rather than particular types of shipments.  He said this was because criminal networks are often involved in many different forms of illegal shipments - from drugs to arms to illegal migrants.  

    "If for example you open a container here, you open one ton of cocaine," Lapaque said. "That’s brilliant - you have stopped one ton of cocaine. But if 20 tons are going through another channel and you haven’t dismantled the criminal network that was actually sending this one ton of cocaine, you are just digging in the sea. You finish the day exhausted, and at the end of the day you haven’t achieved anything."

    The release of the report Monday was timed to coincide with a meeting of the Mediation and Security Council of the West African regional body ECOWAS.

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: One Fly from: Costa Rica
    February 26, 2013 5:15 AM
    If it's "so easy" to make why don't they make it there. This is a terrible piece.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.