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21.03.2007 General News

Cocaine junction- Ghana’s coke boom alerts US

By Gye Nyame

The US has cited Ghana as a major transshipment point for illegal drugs particularly cocaine from South America, as well as heroin from Southeast and Southwest Asia.

The US again says South American cocaine barons have increased their foothold in the country, establishing well-developed distribution networks run by Nigerian and Ghanaian criminals.

It said the Kotoka International Airport is increasingly becoming a focus for traffickers with the Tema, Sekondi and Takoradi ports also becoming notorious for significant drug tracffiking activities.

In the 2007 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report released this week by the US State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, it said although Europe remains the major destination for traffickers, drugs from Ghana also flow to South Africa and North America.

“Ghana's interest in attracting investment provides good cover for foreign drug barons to enter the country under the guise of doing legitimate business,” the report suggested.

However, South American traffickers reduced their need to visit Ghana in person by increasing reliance on local partners, thus further insulating themselves from possible arrest by local authorities, it stressed.

Again, it mentioned 2006 as year marked by a series of cocaine scandals, including allegations of police complicity in cocaine trafficking, citing the incidence where five kilograms of cocaine went missing from a police evidence locker.

“In most prominent case, security agencies interdicted a ship, the MV Benjamin, thought have been carrying as much as two tons of cocaine of which authorities only seized thirty kg”, INCSR noted.

According to the report, the scandal climaxed with the surfacing of a secret recording that caught ACP Kofi Boakye, then Director of Police Operations and some known narcotics traffickers on tape discussing why they had not been alerted to the two ton cocaine shipment.

Source: Gye Nyame