UNODC Laboratory holds first workshop on drug identification with electronic field-testing devices for West Africa

UNODC Laboratory holds first workshop on drug identification with electronic field-testing devices for West Africa. Photo: UNODC1 June 2018 - An increasing number of different drugs and precursors is trafficked in and through West Africa. Several of these substances are highly toxic and they pose a threat to public health.

With a view to support Member States in identifying drugs and precursors, including new psychoactive substances, UNODC's Laboratory and Scientific Section organized a two-day training on the use of electronic field-testing devices.

Held in Vienna, the workshop brought together several law enforcement and customs officers as well as experts representing national forensic laboratories from Nigeria and Ghana.

Speaking about the event, Justice Tettey, UNODC's Laboratory Chief, said: "With an increasing number of substances emerging on drug markets, including potentially deadly opioids such as fentanyl analogues, law enforcement officers need newer tools, which would allow them to identify these substances and at the same time reduce the risk of exposure to these substances."

In addition to preventing the abuse of traditional drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and cannabis, it is essential for West African countries to develop capacity and control the increasing trafficking and non-medical use of opioids such as tramadol. The identification of such substances by law enforcement and customs officials remains challenging, yet with advanced technology, it is possible.

On that point, Mr. Tettey underlined: "UNODC, through its forensic services programme is providing vulnerable countries with advanced handheld field drug and precursor technologies to enhance their capacities to detect and identify these harmful substances."

The Laboratory Scientific Section, in partnership with the CRIMJUST Project, will be training frontline officers from Ghana and Nigeria on the use of handheld devices. The countries will be supported with the deployment of these instruments. This was the first cohort of experts who will serve as trainers for further deployment of such kits in Anglophone and Francophone countries.

Further information:

Laboratory and Scientific Section

Recommended methods for the Identification and Analysis of Fentanyl and its Analogues in Biological Specimens