The report said the emergence of methamphetamine production and related trafficking are posing serious threat to efforts to halt the trade.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says countries in the sub-region including Ghana are still under threat of illicit drug trafficking.
A report issued by the UN titled, “Transnational Organized Crime in West Africa: a Threat Assessment", warned of the prominent presence of businessmen who are deeply involved in the drug trade.
However, it said the flow of drug across the sub-region has declined to about 18 tons per year in 2010 from a peak of 47 tons in 2007.
“Proceeds from the trade could be more than the national security budgets of several ‘west African countries,” it added.
According to the report, the drug trade - which used to be the preserve of South American groups who had to rely on the logistical services of some West African countries - has now taken a different twist as criminal gangs from the sub-region are deeply involved in the drug trade.
The report also quoted UN agency regional representative for West and Central Africa Pierre Lapaque, as saying the “Transnational organized crime is a serious threat to the sub-region.”
He blamed the situation on state institutions and said the “rule of law is weak in most of these countries”.
Again, the report said apart from cocaine, the emergence of methamphetamine production and related trafficking are posing serious threat to efforts to halt the trade.
Two methamphetamine labs were detected in Nigeria in 2011-2012, and some 3,000 couriers travelled from West Africa to East Asia in 2010, carrying drugs worth some US$360 million.
Moreover heroin was reported to be increasingly available in the region, another indication the report cited that West African criminal groups are playing a more prominent role in this transnational markets as well.
It also warned of the growing presence of markets solely devoted to the smuggling of migrants from West Africa to Europe, as well as the trafficking of fraudulent pharmaceuticals from Asia to West Africa, and maritime piracy within the region.
The report concluded that the only ways countries in the sub-region can bring the situation under control was not just to coordinate but share data on the activities of criminal elements involved in the business.