The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), under the CRIMJUST Global Programme, has launched the “Operation Azure” to prevent and respond to synthetic opioid trafficking in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.
Operation Azure is a holistic strategy providing awareness, knowledge and skills to frontline officers, prosecutors and judges through technical guidelines, training and operational actions.
The programme is being organised as part of the UNODC Opioid Strategy, funded by the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
Ms Stephanie S. Sullivan, the US Ambassador to Ghana, at the launch, said the use and abuse of opioids was a global epidemic, which required global solutions.
She said the US was aware of the devastating effects of fentanyl and heroin from overseas, adding that approximately 93,000 Americans lost their lives from drug overdoses in 2020.
According to the World Health Organisation, in 2019 recorded 350,000 deaths attributed to opioids, worldwide.
In Ghana, and throughout the region, the abuse of tramadol and other pharmaceuticals was a growing problem, she said.
Ms Sullivan said Operation Azure would focus on mitigating vulnerabilities in the global postal system and build capacity to investigate and successfully prosecute violators.
Mr Francis Torkornoo, the Director General, Narcotics Control Commission, to address the emerging drug trends, the Commission had intensified both drug demand reduction and supply reduction strategies.
“The Commission has strengthened its drug sensitisation programme across the country and deployed officers to the major courier service companies’ sorting centres and some regional post offices for the examination of courier parcels,” he said.
He said the Commission would work in the spirit of collaboration to disrupt the activities of drug trafficking organisations by intercepting drugs and arresting and prosecuting the criminals.
Mr Charles Abani, the UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, said his outfit would continue to increase synergies to address global drug trafficking.
He called for the use of technology to increase the effectiveness in the fight against drug trafficking for success of the Operation.