Interpol’s Largest African Drug Bust Yet

Interpol on Monday seized narcotics worth over $122,000,000 in Africa and the Middle East during a large international police operation between March and April.

Interpol, the customs and police officials from 41 countries have arrested 287 people in Africa and the Middle East.

In Niger Republic, authorities seized 17 tonnes of cannabis resin, worth about $37 million in warehouses. The narcotics shipment destined for Libya was the largest drug bust in the history of West Africa.

There is a marked increase in drug traffickers using Libya as a trans-shipment point, including for drugs from as far as South America, said Brigadier General Adel Abulkasem Al-Sharwy Bentaleb, Head of Libya’s INTERPOL National Central Bureau.

While many of these drugs are neither produced nor consumed here, this has not spared us from the violent crime inevitably wrought by such activity, which we are determined to combat alongside INTERPOL.

In January, Nigeria’s Drug agency (NDLEA) led by Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd) made huge seizures of cocaine and heroin from a female passenger with street values worth over $72 million at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos. One of the seizures, 26.840 kilograms of cocaine, is the biggest single seizure from an individual in the past 15 years.

Also, in one of South Africa’s largest drug busts, police seized 973 cocaine bricks worth around $39 million from a fishing vessel and arrested 10 persons. A 63-year Mozambican national is expected to appear in Komatipoort Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday in connection with the seized drugs.

Jürgen Stock, Secretary-General of Interpol

In addition, more than 4.5 million tablets of Tramadol, a powerful opioid diverted from its medical purpose, 10,000 steroids and 200 kilos of amphetamines were recovered during the operation. Police also found living pangolins, vehicles, rough diamonds and contraband cigarettes.

The striking results of these two operations demonstrate the sheer scale of the trade in illicit drugs and its international nature, Jürgen Stock, Secretary-General of Interpol said.

Drug trafficking is a threat that we collectively face and the massive seizures achieved in Operation Lionfish show what is possible when law enforcement fights back together,” added Secretary General Stock.

Africa has recorded many record busts in recent years and is seen as a transit route for illegal drugs from South America to Europe.


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