On 22 November, 2006 a cutting edge programme aimed at attacking rising levels of cocaine trafficking from Ghana was launched by Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo. In the United Nations Office of Drugs & Crime Annual Drugs Report 2006, West Africa has been identified as a staging post for Class A drugs targeted on the UK. The Ghanaian government moved swiftly on the published information and approached the British government with the hopes of gaining assistance from the UK to help annihilate the problem before it grew to disproportionate levels.
The solution manifested itself in the form of the Ionscan® Sentinel II Contraband Detection Portal, a revolutionary machine designed to detect even the smallest trace of explosives or narcotics. The scanning equipment has been funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) staff who will share technical and operational expertise with the Ghanaian government under Operation Westbridge.
This initiative follows after the success of Operation Airbridge – a combined UK/Jamaican campaign to apprehend traffickers who concealed Class A drugs internally before boarding flights from Jamaica to the UK. Within the 4 years that Operation Airbridge has been active, the number of detected drug swallowers has reduced by 98%.
The Paymaster General said:
“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.”
Ghana was the first African country to gain their independence and celebrates their 50th anniversary on March 6th, 2007. Ghana has proved itself as being a national leader nearly 50 years ago at the time of their independence and this latest acceptance of technological innovation is no exception. The pioneering country is keen to protect their reputation and economy and understand that this partnership is crucial in deterring potential traffickers.
Honourable Kan Dapaah MP, Ghana’s Minister for Interior said:
“It is the view of the Ghanaian government that drugs pose a 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 dugs. This cannot and ought not be tolerated.
I want to express the sincere appreciation of the Government to the United Kingdom for the 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.”