General News of Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Source: Daily Graphic
The European Police have warned Ghana to be on the alert for the influx of drug moguls from Latin American States under the guise of bringing investments into the country.
They said the drug barons were exploiting the conducive business climate and political stability to establish bases in Ghana and other West African countries to conduct their illicit business in drugs.
The Deputy Director of the British Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) responsible for Cocaine, Mr. Neil Giles; Deputy Director-General of the French National Anti-Narcotics Bureau (OCTRIS), Mr. Jean-Jacques Colombi, and Mr. Andrea Rossi of the Italian Police gave the warning in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra on Tuesday, May 11.
The team, which also included Antonia Mena Lopez, the Head of the National Drugs Intelligence Unit of Spain, is in the country as part of a three-nation West African tour to raise issues over the influx of drugs in and out of West Africa by Latin American barons into Europe and North America.
The team will seek to strengthen relationships with the countries visited and seek to address the operational challenges facing drug enforcement agencies in West Africa to enable the sub-region to deal with the drug problem.
Mr. Giles said there was strong evidence of the drug barons using money to buy influence at the political, law enforcement and judicial levels, adding that it was important that West African countries and their citizens understood the threats posed by those barons and how to deal with them.
West Africa was the target because of the strong trade relations between it and Europe, which the barons had capitalized on in their attempt to ship large consignments of cocaine to Europe under the guise of exporting various food items and other commodities, he said.
“the threat to West Africa is real and unless we continues to operate and collaborate effectively, West Africa will be in serious trouble,” he said, and referred to the recent interception of an aircraft loaded with cocaine on the tarmac in Freetown, Sierra Leone, as a signal that with the right systems in place, West Africa could stand up to the menace.
“Ghana must be more alert, you will deter by the barons being more alert; it is simple as that,” he advised. Mr. Giles emphasized international collaboration and said it was because of it that the team was visiting Ghana, Senegal and the Gambia to develop a system of sharing information and working in partnership to achieve positive results.
He, however, said that would require having partners with integrity, saying that “in the face of the resourcefulness of the traffickers, they will interfere with the political, judicial and law enforcement systems to have their way.
Mr. Giles commended Ghana for being at the forefront in the fight against drugs.
Mr. Colombi said there had been a dramatic decline in the courir3e traffic from Ghana to Europe, noting that what that meant was that “what we are doing here is bearing fruits”.
He said Ghana had been able to find the right response to dealing with courier traffickers but was quick to add that it could also mean the drug barons had changed their way, hence the need to collaborate and look elsewhere.