The Dakar Joint Port Control Unit seizes over USD 380,000 in counterfeit medicine

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In the framework of the joint UNODC-WCO Global Container Control Programme (CCP), the Joint Port Control Unit (JPCU) of the Dakar seaport seized over USD 380,000 in counterfeit medicine in early 2016.

This operation represents a tangible improvement for both national authorities and the region at large, which has increasingly fallen victim to illicit trafficking of all sorts. Illicit drugs, precursors, counterfeit cigarettes, protected fauna and flora, and counterfeit medicine are among the many goods that are trafficked via containers along West African coasts and dry ports. Strengthening the interdiction capacity of law enforcement agencies at key entry and exit points is therefore a priority for the security, stability and ultimately, the development of the West Africa region.

Originating from India and Nigeria, the goods were intercepted in January and early February by the Dakar Port JPCU aboard four containers that had previously been profiled due to the nature of the shipment and their countries of origin. The team in charge of the investigation, currently composed of 7 members, has received continuous support, training and mentoring from CCP.

Members of the Dakar JPCU unloading an intercepted container
Members of the Dakar JPCU unloading an intercepted container

The Head of the JPCU reported that the smuggled counterfeit medicine consisted mainly of anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory skin gels. While seemingly harmless, he affirmed that according to the research carried out on the matter, "the dosage and/or the inappropriate use of these medicines could have highly harmful consequences on their users."

What is more, these illicit operations reinforce the power of organized crime syndicates, while also fueling corruption and impunity, dramatically adding weight to their health-related consequences mentioned by the Head of the JPCU. Successful seizures like these ones can thus provide authorities with the tools and information required to grasp the modus operandi of the criminals behind such operations, and ultimately dismantle these networks.

The Container Control Programme is being operationalized in a number of seaports and dry ports across the region, including in Bamako, where a JPCU will be established in the coming months. Since the beginning of the Programme in 2004, more than 100 metric tons of cocaine, 60 metric tons of cannabis, 2.9 tons of heroin and 1,275 tons of precursor chemicals were seized in containers.

CCP activities in Senegal and the Sahel region fall within the framework of the UNODC Sahel Programme, and are made possible thanks to the contribution of the Government of Japan.