afrol News, 27 February - During the last six years, thousands of kilos of cocaine have been confiscated in Guinea-Bissau, a new report reveals. The poor West African country has turned into a major drug transhipment hub during the last decade.
A new report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) analyses the impact of drug trafficking on societies in the West African region, and politically unstable Guinea-Bissau stands out as a main concern.
The report finds that cocaine trafficking has become the most lucrative criminal activity in West Africa, although targeted intelligence and police action has managed to reduce volumes over the last few years. ONUDC estimates the flow of illegal drugs in West Africa at 18 tonnes in 2010, which is down from an estimated 47 million tonnes in the peak year of 2007.
A key trafficking hub is Guinea-Bissau, a country with a large, unguarded and sparsely populated coastline and chronic political instability. The UN agency reveals the magnitude of the problem. According to UNODC, a total of 2,140 kilogram of cocaine has been seized in Guinea-Bissau, the largest quantity registered in any West African country from 2005 to 2011.
The report "Tracking transnational organised crime in West Africa" also reveals that Guinea-Bissau is the country most affected by drug trafficking. According to UNODC, trafficking has a severe effect on both the political stability and the armed forces of the small impoverished country.
The study mentions several examples of how drug trafficking has increased the level of violence in Guinea-Bissau, including drug related kidnapping, murder and intimidation of journalists, police officers, judges, military forces and government officials trying to stand up against the criminal networks.
According to UNODC, the large cocaine trade now has become a main factor behind the increased political instability, in addition to the large scale of illegal fire arms sales in Guinea-Bissau. The UN agency even holds that the drug trade has contributed to providing arms to the Islamists in northern Mali.
The document further refers to the drug money funding of piracy, a relatively new phenomenon in the eastern Atlantic and the Gulf of Guinea, which is threatening African trade routes. According to UNODC, drug trafficking has led to a growth of transnational criminal organisations in the region, and their growing influence have grown to a level "threatening the security of Western Africa" as a total.
Currently, the trade in cocaine, transhipped in Guinea-Bissau from production sites in Latin America to their destination in Europe, is the most profitable in West Africa, UNODC reports. Brazil is said to be the main producer of the cocaine shipped to Guinea-Bissau and the rest of Western Africa.
But as cocaine volumes are being reduced, UNODC warns that new products are introduced to the region. The UN agency has observed a growing traffic and production of amphetamine in West Africa. In 2011 and 2012, two amphetamine laboratories were located in Nigeria.
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