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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid