June 20 (Bloomberg) -- West Africa has seen a “tremendous increase” of drug use, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, with more than a third of the cocaine that passed through the region being consumed locally.
Local use of drugs, especially cocaine and heroin, which are moved from Latin America to Europe, has become “a huge issue for public heath” in West Africa, said Alexandre Schmidt, the UNODC’s regional representative, in Dakar today.
The traffickers are using new methods to evade capture, including small submarines, making estimates of exactly how many drugs are passing through the region hard to gauge, Schmidt said.
In 2009, 35 metric tons of cocaine may have moved through the region, according to the UNODC’s figures, which are based on seizures, compared with 47 tons estimated for 2008. As much as 13 tons were consumed locally in 2009, the latest year that figures are available, Schmidt told reporters.
Africa “in terms of hard drugs has never been a continent for consumption,” he said, adding that the region lacks drug- treatment centers. The UN agency said as much as 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of heroin have been consumed in West Africa in 2011 so far.
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