- The United Nations voiced serious concerns over evidence recently uncovered in Guinea suggesting that undercover narcotics operations are producing illicit drugs on a large scale in the West African country.
A fact-finding mission to Guinea, conducted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Interpol, investigating a haul of chemicals seized by government forces in mid-July revealed quantities far in excess of the legitimate demands of the country, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters yesterday in New York.
“Among the evidence – the best found by the UN in West Africa to date – were tools for making counterfeit antibiotics, substances used to produce ecstasy, and solvents commonly used in cocaine and heroin processing,” said Ms Montas.
“The UN is concerned that clandestine drug production may be widespread in Guinea,” she added.
High pressure reaction vessels and sassafras oil, commonly used in the manufacture of ecstasy (MDMA), were found in at least two locations, and one of the sites visited by the group of experts contained a laboratory for the production of counterfeit antibiotics, according to a news release issued by UNODC.
To combat organised crime and drug trafficking in West Africa, UNODC launched an initiative last month to tackle the scourge in the region, which sees $1 billion worth of cocaine pass through its borders annually.
According to a UNODC report released on 7 July, organised crime – including trafficking in human beings, counterfeit drugs, toxic wastes and even natural resources – is arresting development in the region while lining the pockets of a select few.
In some cases, the value of trafficked goods exceeds the gross domestic product (GDP) of West African nations, which are among the world’s poorest, the UN has said.
“We’ll be focusing on post-conflict situations,” UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa told reporters at UN Headquarters after the launch of the report in July, noting that Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone will be the focus of the Initiative.
He added that if democratic elections can be held soon in Guinea, it, too, will be added to the list of nations.
Guinea, like the rest of the West African states, is known to be a transit point for smuggling drugs from Latin America to markets in Europe.
Drugs have become a general security issue in the region with narco-dollars altering already weak economies of the region and also threatening democratic institutions according to the United Nations.
United Nations estimates that at least 50 tonnes of cocaine are shipped through the West African region every year.
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