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Fake pharmaceutical companies feed illicit drug trade

Crystal methamphetamine being sold on the streets of Phnom Penh.
(Vinh Dao/IRIN)

Criminal networks are setting up fake pharmaceutical companies in Africa to transit substances used to make street methamphetamines, according to the International Narcotics Control Board’s (INCB) 2008 Annual Report.

The companies forge import permits to illegally divert ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which are found in cold and flu medications and are ingredients in the highly addictive central nervous system stimulant known as “crystal meth”. They then ship the substances to Mexico to feed drug manufacturers.

In 2007 authorities recorded 30 metric tons of both substances blocked from illegally entering Africa - a steep drop from the previous year’s 75 mt, according to INCB. Traffickers might avoid arrest by ordering smaller amounts of the two drugs, the agency wrote.

What is not diverted abroad may be illegally sold locally, INCB says. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates there are 2.3 million abusers of amphetamines in Africa - nine percent of the world total.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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