General News of Saturday, 28 July 2012
The United States has begun training elite anti-drugs police squads in Ghana, using techniques previously deployed in Afghanistan, as it seeks to combat rising drugs flows through Africa to Europe, reports the Daily Telegraph July 23, 2012.
Afghanistan is one of the world’s main producer of opium, a dried latex obtained from the opium poppy which is most often processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. It is believed that the US has helped curb the production of opium in that country even though it has gone up lately.
Drug cartels based in Latin America are increasingly using Africa to smuggle cocaine into Europe and also the US. Indeed the 2012 World Drug Report estimated that cocaine trafficking in West Africa generate some $900 million in annual profits for criminal networks.
Aside setting up the special anti-drug countering unit in Ghana, the US plans to put up similar ones in Nigeria and Kenya.
“We have an interest in and have heavily invested in the region over the past few years,” Jeffrey Scott, a spokesperson for the US Drug Enforcement Adminstration (DEA), told The Daily Telegraph.
“We have supplemented our in-country offices with training and support similar to that provided in Afghanistan and elsewhere, with a view to ramping up the capacity of our counterparts,” the DEA official added.
The New York Times citing officials said that the D.E.A. commando team has not been deployed to work with the newly created elite police squads in Africa.
According to the publication, officials explained that if Western security forces did come to play a more direct operational role in Africa, for historical reasons they might be European and not American.
In May 2012, the Assistant US Secretary of State for international narcotics and law enforcement, William R. Brownfield visited Ghana and Liberia and was believed to have put the finishing touches on a West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative, which will try to replicate across 15 nations the steps taken in battling trafficking groups operating in Central America and Mexico.
Even though the ability of nations to deal with drug trafficking has improved , Mr Brownfield, according to the New York Times indicated that because drug traffickers have already moved into Africa, there is a need for the immediate elite police units that have been trained and vetted.**