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13.03.2006 General News

Cocaine Shipment On The Increase

By Graphic

About a thousand kilogrammes of cocaine were shipped into the country between 2004 and 2005.

More than 588 kilogrammes of cocaine were seized in Ghana in January 2004 and a similar quantity in October 2005 by the police.

Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Colonel Isaac K. Akuoko (retd), attributed this to the porous and ineffective security systems at the country's coastlines, which enabled drug dealers to traffick cocaine into the country by boats and vessels.

“Our partners have done a tremendous job in assisting us to intercept boats that are heading to West Africa with their cargo of cocaine,” the executive secretary said. That, he added, posed a hydra-headed problem for the country.

Speaking on “Overview of the Drug Situation in Ghana” at the launch of the 2005 International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) Report in Accra ,he stated that although the drugs were repackaged for transporting to Europe and America, some entered the local market.

He said where more drugs were available, the rate of abuse also increased.

“As a result, Ghana would begin to face a major problem with drug abuse and addiction and the youth would become victims of these greedy people who are bent on enriching themselves at the expense of our future leaders and development,” he emphasised.

Col Akuoko said the influx of large quantities of cocaine had manifested itself in the sharp increase of the number of persons trafficking drugs from Ghana to Europe and elsewhere.

“The availability of more cocaine in Ghana has led to an increase in the number of drug traffickers using every possible means to send drugs to Europe, stressing that 99 per cent of the number of arrests at the points of departure, particularly the Kotoka International Airport, were carrying cocaine.

Col Akuoko said the postal system had also not been left out in the scheme of things as drug dealers had resorted to sending drugs, concealed and disguised in many forms, by post.

He, however, said cultivation of cannabis and its abuse continued to be the dominant factor in Ghana's illicit drug problem.

He said although the INCB report indicated a decrease in cannabis production in Africa, evidence on the ground in Ghana showed that it was on the increase.

“For example, cannabis seizures by the end of the third quarter of 2005 was 11,453.1 kilogramme while the total seizures for the whole year in 2004 was 765.1 kilogramme.

On arrest for 2005, 827 males and 29 females as against 734 males and 27 females in 2004 were arrested,” he stated.

Col Akuoko said apart from the fact that lack of employable opportunities in rural areas contributed to the cultivation of cannabis, “another reason is that cannabis financiers pay for the cultivation of cannabis upfront even before the land is cleared”.

The Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Accra, Ms Margaret A. Novicki, said the international community should rethink the drug control strategy, in order for the INCB to work effectively.

That, she said, called for alternative development which involved the replacement of illegal drug-crop production with legal cash crops, which would provide growers with similar or even higher incomes.

On the use of the postal system for drug smuggling, Ms Novicki said almost every region of the world had experienced an increase in such activity over the past five years.

“The smuggling of drugs by mail poses a major threat to law enforcement and has been steadily increasing over the past year,” she said.