UK & Ghanaian Governments Join Forces to Combat Drug Trafficking

An innovative joint program to tackle rising levels of cocaine smuggling from Ghana was launched by Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo. Under Operation Westbridge, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers will give technical and operational expertise to the Ghanaian government. This will include training in the use of Foreign and Commonwealth Office funded scanning equipment.

This project follows the success of Operation Airbridge, a joint UK/Jamaican initiative to catch drugs couriers with internal concealments of Class A drugs before they board planes from Jamaica. It proved the value of working in partnership with local law enforcement agencies: during the four years that Operation Airbridge has been running the number of drugs swallowers detected at UK airports from Jamaica has reduced from approximately 1000 per year to 5 during the last 12 months.

The Paymaster General said:

“Drug trafficking is a shared problem and tackling it must be a joint responsibility. The success of our partnership with the Jamaican authorities demonstrates that working alongside law enforcement authorities in the countries where drugs originate can have exceptional results. This experience will help us develop the work of our Ghanaian counterparts in their anti-drug action.

“West Africa has been identified as a staging point for Class A drugs targeting the UK. I am pleased to be able to support the Ghanaian government’s efforts to tackle the problem. HMRC officers will be sharing their expertise in anti-smuggling techniques, intelligence gathering, and providing training in the use of state of the art technology, including Ion scanning techniques.

“People who swallow cocaine risk their lives and a substantial jail sentence if they are caught in the UK. They are targeted by organized crime gangs who care nothing for their welfare. This important joint work will help reduce their misery, and the harm caused to Britain’s communities.”

The Ghanaian government requested assistance from the UK to combat drug trafficking from their region.

Honourable Kan Dapaah MP, Ghana’s Minister for Interior said:

“It is the view of the Ghanaian government that drugs pose a great threat not only to this country but also the world at large. Ghana does not want to earn for itself the dubious reputation of being a major transit point for narcotic drugs. This cannot and ought not be tolerated.

“I want to express the sincere appreciation of the government to the United Kingdom for this tremendous show of solidarity and to assure you of the determination of the government and people of Ghana to do all within our powers to execute and win the ‘War’ that we have declared on drug abuse and trafficking.”

Source: HM Revenue & Customs

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