- The head of the UN anti-drug agency has today congratulated Ghana on the seizure of a multi-million dollar cocaine shipment in Port Tema earlier this week.
Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said the seizure “shows that law enforcement officials are getting better at reading the warning signs.”
The Ghanaian police and customs authorities, working in a Joint Port Control Unit, established with the support of UNODC in 2008, discovered 72 kilograms of cocaine in a container from Ecuador. The shipment had a street value of around $ 7 million in Europe, UNODC said.
UNODC said Ghanaian law enforcement officials used profiling techniques learned from the UN training, noting that perhaps insiders in the port of Ecuador are cooperating with people in Port Tema to smuggle drugs and falsify customs documents.
This is the second notable success for the Port Tema authorities within a year. Soon after the launch of the UNODC training programme, customs officers intercepted three stolen luxury cars in containers coming from Spain, the agency said.
“Criminal groups should learn that developing countries are no longer a safe haven for smuggling,” stressed Mr Costa.
UNODC said some 420 million sea containers move around the world every year, with only a tiny fraction of them being inspected.
UNODC and the World Customs Organization have designed the Container Control Programme to assist governments in developing countries to establish effective controls over the movement of containers and make it harder for terrorists and other criminals to use these for smuggling.
That programme is now operational in Ecuador, Ghana, Pakistan, Senegal and Turkmenistan, and will be extended to ports in Central Asia and Latin America, UNODC said.
West Africa is a key transit hub for drug shipments en route to Europe. A report released by UNODC in October 2008 claimed that at least 50 tons of cocaine from Latin America are entering West Africa every year, en route to Europe where the drug sells for almost $2 billion.
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