Maritime law enforcement officers to be equipped to fight against trafficking

Maritime Social Workshop


Mr. Kenneth Adu-Amanfoh, Acting Director General of the Narcotics Control Commission (NACOC) of Ghana, said maritime law enforcement officers must be well equipped to combat maritime drug trafficking.

They will acquire the skills and knowledge required in maritime intelligence systems, maritime trafficking methods and cover-ups to deal with maritime drug trafficking.

He said it was imperative to address the issues of illicit drug trafficking by sea for further distribution or local consumption.

“Seizure data indicate that a substantial proportion of the total amount of drugs seized is confiscated from maritime modes of transport or was transported by sea,” he added.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the marine survey workshop in Accra, Mr Adu-Amanfoh said officers should also be exposed to all forms of profiling techniques from merchant vessels and fishing boats to deal with maritime drug trafficking.

He added that “this, when done effectively, can boost investor confidence in the maritime industry and facilitate trade at seaports without unnecessary delays.”

Mr. Adu-Amanfoh said, “I am confident that the content of the training has been structured to achieve its objective of making law enforcement officers more efficient and professional.”

“I therefore urge officers to respect each other’s points of view, be careful and have an open mind ready to engage, learn new skills and share knowledge during the course,” said he added.

Mr. Akizi-Egnim Akala, representative of Expertise France, said that organized crime posed a significant and growing threat to national and international security, as it was a global problem affecting developing and developed countries.

Mr Akala said in the Organized Crime Index Africa 2020 that West African countries seem to have high crime scores and a very low resilience score.

He added that according to the World Bank, the criminal economy in Africa was estimated at over $3.3 trillion in 2015 and far exceeded Africa’s total GDP.

Mr Akala said that in the past 3 years, 57 tonnes of cocaine had been seized in West Africa, but according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the trafficking was five times higher.

“…on May 19, 2022, 115 kg of cocaine worth 7.5 billion CFA francs shipped from Sierra Leone to Ghana were seized in Burkina Faso,” he added.

Mr. Akala also said that most of the illicit goods are transported by sea from one continent to another via ships due to the large quantities involved.

He told the trainees that “but we know that ships are like complex houses and without reliable intelligence, searches are futile”.

“This is why you have been selected to undergo the maritime intelligence training, in order to enable you to improve your capacities for collecting, analyzing and processing information to support operational units by providing them with the most more reliable in targeting the right ships to search,” he added.

Anna Lixi, Head of Governance and Security of the EU Delegation to Ghana, said that according to UNODC, West Africa is facing a growing influx of drugs from America Latin via the region’s ports and airports.

She said, “Ghana’s deep-sea ports, for example, make the country an attractive logistics hub for medicines.

“Large quantities of these drugs are destined for European markets, UNODC estimates the trade to be worth around $800 million a year,” she added.

Ms. Lixi said that the EU Strategy for Combating Organized Crime and the EU Drugs Strategy recognize that international cooperation must be strengthened to combat and reduce international drug trafficking.

She said that in many cases drugs were hidden among other legitimate shipments, with increasingly sophisticated techniques.

“In many cases, drugs are concealed among other legitimate shipments, with increasingly sophisticated techniques.”

“Maritime intelligence units are essential in helping to identify and trace these illicit shipments, including seizing drugs, collecting evidence against suspects and developing criminal cases,” she said.

She added, “We are here today to help strengthen regional cooperation on this issue, bringing together representatives from Ghana and Sierra Leone.”

Ms Lixi said law enforcement officers needed to be careful and alert as smugglers smuggled goods and money quickly across borders.

She also said that in doing so, sharing information about crimes and their activities between countries and national security agencies was essential.

“They move goods and money quickly across borders. In this context, law enforcement must stay one step ahead and to achieve this, sharing information about criminals and their activities between countries and national security agencies is essential.

“We must therefore join forces in the fight against international drug trafficking, and today we support this goal by building relevant capacities for cross-border collaboration,” she stressed.

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