17 Oct 2023

Drug trafficking / Illicit trafficking of natural psychotropics from Gabon: special focus on Iboga

This report explores the criminal networks involved in illicit iboga harvesting and trafficking to better inform law enforcement.

Iboga, a plant native to Central Africa, has been used for centuries in religious rituals and traditional medicine. In recent years, it has gained notoriety for its potential to treat substance use disorders. However, its increasing commercialisation and global trade are having a negative impact on the plant and the communities that rely on it. Ibogaine, the psychoactive alkaloid found in iboga root, can cause a variety of effects, including stimulation, aphrodisia, trance, and hallucinations. At high doses, it can be toxic. Despite the risks, iboga is being used in unregulated therapeutic clinics around the world to treat addiction. The online market for iboga is thriving, and consumers often seek out Gabonese iboga due to its sacred properties. This has led to overharvesting and deforestation in Gabon, harming local communities and the environment. Criminal networks are involved in the illicit harvesting, trafficking and sale of iboga. These networks are composed mostly of nationals from Gabon and Cameroon with connections to Europe and North America. Iboga is sold online in a variety of formats, including root bark, root powder, capsules, and, less commonly, ibogaine powder or iboga seed.

Image: © pmeller/iNaturalist


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