Liberian authorities achieve positive results in the fight against drug trafficking

Funded by the Government of United States

West Africa continues to serve as an important transit hub for cocaine and heroin coming from the Latin American and Asian producing countries to European markets. The porosity of borders in West Africa, weak rule of law and limited infrastructures and resources allow traffickers to smuggle large amounts of drugs without being detected. The Government of Liberia is committed to preventing organized narco-criminal groups from gaining a foothold in its territory but still faces challenges in terms of adequate resources and specialized skills to respond to this threat.

Since 2011, UNODC supported Liberian authorities in combating illicit drug trafficking and transnational organized crime under the West Africa Coast Initiative (WACI) project and has thus supported the establishment and functioning of the Liberia Transnational Organized Crime Unit (TCU). Both the TCU and the Liberian Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) have recently achieved positive results in the number of seizures and arrests relating to drug trafficking.

For instance, in December 2018 and January 2019, LDEA officers conducted two effective joint operations, resulting in the remarkable seizure of 26 kg of heroin valued at USD 910,000 and the arrest of 8 individuals in Paynesville and Grand Cape Mount County. Prior to that, in November 2018, LDEA and the Liberia TCU officers also seized 8 kg of unprocessed heroin from a passenger's luggage at Roberts International Airport in Monrovia. The seizures were made possible thanks to intelligence gathering and proactive investigations between LDEA, TCU and various international partners.


WACI Member States, which include Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone, are working together to foster a regional response to growing security threats in West Africa. Launched in 2009 as a comprehensive and multi-stakeholder partnership between the Department of Political Affairs (DPA)/UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), UNODC and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), WACI is designed to support the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Political Declaration and Regional Action Plan to Address the Growing Problem of Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime and Drug Abuse in West Africa.

Overall results of WACI TCUs to date include:

  • 1,042 investigations,
  • 858 persons prosecuted,
  • 12 tons of hashish,
  • 5,310 kg of marijuana,
  • 216 kg of cocaine,
  • 56 kg of heroin,
  • 3,331 kg of pangolin scales,
  • 600 kg of illicit ivory,
  • 349 kg of tramadol and,
  • 64 tons of counterfeit medicines seized.

UNODC's support to Liberians' authorities is in line with the development of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), in particular Goal 16 which aims to "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels".

Finally, WACI in Liberia is funded by the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

For more information:

West African Coast Initiative (WACI)

Transnational Crime Units (TCU)

Midterm report of UNODC Regional Programme (Nov 2018)

UNODC contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals