The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has said a Nigerian drug syndicate is supplying a potent central nervous system stimulant, methamphetamine, locally known as ‘Mpuru Mmiri’, to South Africa.
This was disclosed in the UNODC World Drug Report 2021, an in-depth analysis of the global drug markets that paints a comprehensive picture of the measurable effects and potential impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the world drug problem.
According to the report, the traffickers have set up two major transnational supply routes from Nigeria and Afghanistan through which the deadly narcotic is trafficked to Western Cape Province, South Africa.
It said revealed that the cartel had been operating in Nigeria since late 2019.
Many youths in the South-East were said to be addicted to Mpuru Mmiri, which is widely sold in many urban areas in the region.
Experts said many Mpuru Mmiri abusers could be identified by their tattered dressing and shabby looks, and they suffer a loss of appetite and weight loss; strange sleeping patterns; angry outbursts or mood swings, and exhibit psychotic behaviour such as paranoia and hallucination.
The UN report said, “There are also some indications that since late 2019, some of the methamphetamine found in South Africa is also being smuggled from Afghanistan via Pakistan and countries of East and Southern Africa to South Africa, particularly the Western Cape Province.
“Thus, methamphetamine is currently trafficked into South Africa along two major transnational supply routes: one originating in Nigeria and used by Nigerian crime syndicates, and a second originating in Afghanistan that follows traditional heroin routes and is dominated by Pakistani drug trafficking syndicates.”
According to the report, the annual prevalence of cannabis use in Africa is estimated at 6.4 percent of the population aged 15–64, corresponding to 47 million past-year users.
It noted that the West and Central Africa has the highest prevalence of use, at 9.4 per cent, or an estimated 27 million users, largely reflecting past-year use of cannabis in Nigeria, where people who use cannabis were estimated to be 10.8 per cent of the adult population or 10.6 million people in 2018.
The UN said people in treatment for cannabis use disorders were commonly reported in Africa, where half of those in drug treatment in 2019 were reported as being treated for cannabis use.
“On the basis of drug treatment data from West Africa covering the period 2014–2017, the majority of people (73 per cent) who were treated for drug use disorders in the subregion were treated for cannabis as the primary drug, which corresponds to a rate of almost two per 100,000 adult population being treated for cannabis use disorders in each reporting year,” it said.
The UNODC estimated that almost four per cent of the global population or the equivalent of 200 million people, aged 15–64 years, used cannabis at least once in 2019.
Commenting on the activities of the cartel supplying drugs to South Africa, the spokesman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Femi Babafemi, said the agency was in the trail of the syndicate, adding that 18 drug laboratories had been shut down by the NDLEA.
He said, “We’ve been frustrating their attempts to export drugs from Nigeria to any part of the world through daily and/or weekly arrests and seizures at the nation’s airports, especially in Lagos and Abuja as well as various land borders across the country.
“Beyond this, we’re on the trail of the cartels to shut down their pipelines – that is, the clandestine laboratories, 18 of which had been shut down in recent times by the agency. I can assure you that the Chairman of NDLEA, Gen. Marwa, is personally coordinating the efforts in this regard.”