Monday, September 20, 2010

The West African Drug Peddlers

From 234Next:

According to a statement released by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the US President, Barack Obama, said that this was the first time that Nigeria would be delisted from the drug majors list since 1991. The anti-narcotics agency stated that Mr Obama said that Nigeria was a onetime drug trafficking focal point but that the country had taken a lot of drastic steps to make counter narcotics a top national security for the country. He said that international data showed that there was a strengthening of illegal drug trafficking between Latin America and West Africa, especially via Brazil and Venezuela, with a considerable portion of illegal product destined for Europe.

Indeed. From the Economist earlier this year, via The Moor Next Door (whose blog is great, by the way):

WEST AFRICA has become an attractive trade route for Latin America’s cocaine smugglers in recent years. On June 8th two tonnes (2000kg) of the stuff (with an estimated street value of over $1 billion) were seized in the Gambia. While cocaine use in America has fallen by 50% over the last two decades, some European countries have seen consumption rates double or triple. Aided by its corruptible police and flimsy money-laundering laws, up to 150 tonnes of cocaine are estimated to pass through the region a year. In 2006 36% of the cocaine carriers caught in one network of European airports had come from west Africa. In 2008 this had dropped to 17%. Whether this reflects a drop in trade or the traffickers’ increasing skill in avoiding capture is unclear

Here's James Traub with his great report in the NYT in April this year:

According to U.N. reports, as well as American law-enforcement and intelligence officials, cocaine crosses the Atlantic from South America either in small planes, including Cessna turboprops outfitted with an extra bladder of fuel, or in commercial fishing vessels or cargo ships. The drugs are then transported in bulk along one of several routes. Some are taken to the international airports in Dakar, Senegal and Accra, Ghana or elsewhere, where they are generally swallowed in relatively small amounts by couriers and flown to European cities. Other shipments are transported northward by truck or carried overland across ancient smuggling routes before crossing the Mediterranean into southern Europe. The African couriers and crime syndicates are often paid in “product,” which has the additional effect of creating a local market for cocaine.

There was a huge drug bust in Liberia in June this year you can read about here.

Drugs funneled from the jungles of Brazil and Colombia, through to West Africa (often with the help of armed groups) and into Europe. There's globalization for you.

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