News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Wednesday June 19th 2019

International experts share notes on shutting down drug labs

Police top brass from 18 countries are swopping notes with the SAPS on how to stop the manufacture of illicit drugs such as tik, by preventing chemicals used to manufacture them from getting into criminal hands.The third International Precursor Chemical Monitoring conference over four days in Modimolle, Limpopo, has top brass from around the world figuring out how stop what are otherwise above-board chemicals being misappropriated by criminal backyard chemists for drug manufacturing.

“Law-enforcement agencies must continually adopt new and innovative ways of not only detecting but also preventing the manufacture and distribution of synthetic drugs,” said Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat, head of the specialized Hawks crime fighting unit, on the first day of the conference on Tuesday.

“The problem we have to confront is complex: we must distinguish between the legal circulation of chemicals, which are widely distributed for the manufacture of useful and sometimes even vital consumer products, and their alternative routing by illicit traffickers, for the manufacture of known or new narcotic drugs,” said French ambassador Jacques Lapouge.

Lapouge said France sought to support South Africa’s monitoring programmes, and had a history of co-operation in law enforcement, the most recent being during the Fifa World Cup.

“France and South Africa, as most countries, experience common threats, as they both live in an increasingly globalised world, in which criminal activities feed an intense global illicit economy, which our democracies have to firmly address and curb, by implementing aligned methods and harmonized standards,” said Lapouge.

In addition to the French, experts from 17 other countries, including the United Kingdom, United States of America, Australia, SADC states, as well as representatives from Europol, Interpol and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are attending the conference.

Dramat said the get-together was about “sharing experiences, comparing best practice and then going ahead and making a difference in the lives of our people who expect nothing less from us”.

Speaking prior to the conference on Monday, national narcotics head for organised crime, senior superintendent Deven Naicker, said 28 drug manufacturing laboratories were bust in 2009. Of these, 16 were manufacturing tik, or methamphetamine.

The majority of the labs were in Gauteng, North West Province and Free State, said Naicker.

He said this was partly due to the chemicals needed to manufacture drugs being more available in Gauteng, such as ephedrine, irondine and phosphorous.

Naicker said although the number of labs have declined from since 2002 and 2004 when there were 64 labs uncovered, they have become more sophisticated and not just supplying the domestic market, but exporting the drugs.

While current figures on lab busts are not available to the public at the moment, he said four drug labs were shut down in the last month alone.

He said the manufacture of drugs also affected the environment.

For every one kilogram of methamphetamine produced six kilograms of chemical waste was generated. This was sometimes dumped into a hole dug in the back yard or thrown into storm water systems to end up in streams and rivers. – West Cape News

Tags: Crime, drugs, methamphetamine, saps, tik

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