Drugs in Africa: Foreign crime gangs are a big threat

Posted on July 13, 2017 12:07 am

Those who’ve been to Africa know that the drugs addiction problems are increasing every day. But its important to note that its nowhere near to the levels of addictions we’ve seen in western world and Asia. A new report that your blogger has obtained shows the drug market in Africa makes for sombre reading. Released recently, it reveals that more drugs are heading into Africa and certain forms of drug usage are increasing. A variety of crime groups are playing a role in the drug trade.Cocaine, Heroin, Methylamphetamine have been the subject of much scrutiny in recent times and concern is growing among African authorities. Some countries are known to be holding inquiries into drug’s impact in their country and some governments have in the recent past released drugs action plan in response. Known as Drugs intelligence documents, in some countries they help inform the debate around drugs and what practical lessons the society and law enforcement can draw from it.According to the 2016 data, 9% of Africans aged 12 and above reported using drugs at least once in their lifetime and 8.1% reported recent use. This has remained consistent with 2015 figures.What has changed, and significantly so, is the type of drugs Africans are using.Users now prefer cocaine, heroin and crystal methylamphetamine. This produces more powerful physical and psychological reactions than marijuana, the most commonly used drug in Africa.In South Africa and Nigeria, users of powder forms has decreased while use of drugs like ice has more than doubled between 2014 and 2016. Various drug research centres findings in the two countries from 2015 support this conclusion.The increased addiction and dependence potential for drugs like ice as the purest form of the drug is also evident. A great proportion more than a third of regular ice users are using at least weekly. This is a much higher rate than the eighth of regular powder users who use weekly.

Increased demand for the higher purity of drugs like ice results in African users in particular being prepared to pay premium prices for this form of the drug. Figures suggest that the wealthy African price per kilogram of crystal methylamphetamine is USD$8,000. China, Thailand and Indonesia, countries flagged by the report as a key player in transnational organised drug crime, the cost is as low as USD $3,000.In Africa, the business of illegal drugs shares some elements with the business of selling legal products. Common features include lots of working capital, a steady supply of raw materials, manufacturing facilities, reliable shipping and distribution and marketing networks. But it is knowing what criminal networks are operating at what level that is the key to an effective law enforcement response.The data your blogger has indicates that detections of clandestine laboratories decreased by approximately 19% in 2016. The weight of precursor material being detected at the border has also decreased, despite the number of detections increasing.Conversely, the weight and amount of drugs detections at the African countries border, in particular detections of cocaine, heroin, ice, continue to increase. This suggests that the outstanding threat is increasingly coming from abroad. Small-time African players mainly from West African countries of Ghana and Nigeria are growing reliant on transnational crime groups.The data shows there is an increased seizures, border detections and associated arrests for drugs across Africa at record highs. This echoes the findings of the international reports which identified trends of record-high seizures of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine among authors as compared with marijuana.The report indicates that transnational organised crime involvement in high-volume precursor importation and trafficking remains at high levels. Its concern about illicit importations concealed by legitimate markets is clear, particularly from a law enforcement perspective.The report also details crime groups which are being active in Africa’s drug market and they include West African gangs, Thailand gangs, Indonesia gangs, North African gangs, Eastern European gangs , Chinese gangs, Mexican gangs, Caribbean gangs and South African gangs.No doubt this report confirms long held belief that transnational organised crime gangs are the most concerning threat to Africa when talking about organised and serious crime. They are clearly involved in Africa’s drugs market.

Contador Harrison