Drug seizure in Mauritania following UNODC assistance

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Following a search of a private residence in Nouakchott in November 2018, Mauritanian police officers of the counternarcotic office seized 100kg of cannabis and 2200 tablets of illicitly trafficked medication (Rivotril). The specialized police unit discovered a secret room with a hidden access point under the kitchen sink, thanks to intelligence analysis. Five persons were brought to justice while the leader behind the group is already in prison for previous crimes.

This seizure is a result of a UNODC training workshop on drug identification and detection organized last September in Nouakchott. 22 participants in total, including officers from this specialized unit, as well as officers from forensics, gendarmerie and the security cooperation platform (Plateforme de Coopération en Matière de Sécurité - PCMS) strengthened their capacities on the identification of precursors, clandestine laboratories and means of dissimulation. They also revised methodology of inspection and search, management of informants and interrogation techniques. Officers of the counternarcotic unit applied knowledge acquired during at least five modules of this workshop to conduct this successful recent search and drug seizure.

In response to this seizure, Mr. Djibril Sangaré, one of the workshop's trainer, underlined that "the Mauritanian police officers responsible for this spectacular seizure have demonstrated the impact of strengthening capacities of law enforcement officers in the region". 

Photos taken during the seizure
Photos taken during the seizure

The same police unit also seized 3.5 kilograms of cannabis in October 2018.

According to the 2018 UNODC World Drug Report, "the focus of attention for global seizures of pharmaceutical opioids is now firmly on countries in West and Central Africa and North Africa, which accounted for 87 per cent of the global total in 2016". The high prevalence of pharmaceutical opioids in Africa is mostly due to the widespread use of tramadol, a pain medication gaining popularity in the region for non-medical use. According to the report, drug consumption of all kinds has been increasing in Africa, with efforts to prevent and treat drug addictions remaining slow to materialize.

UNODC's support in Mauritania is carried out in the framework of the Sahel Programme that aims to strengthen the capacities of law enforcement and justice officials of the Sahel to fight illicit trafficking and terrorism through the development of accessible, efficient and accountable criminal justice systems. UNODC's support is made possible thanks to the generous contributions of Sahel Programme's donors, in particular Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United States.