Africa Turns into Cocaine Paradise

The UN Security Council called for greater international cooperation in fighting drug trafficking on the African continent, since in the last few years the countries of Western and Eastern Africa have been serving as the largest terminal bases for illicit drugs. The drugs are mainly supplied from Latin America and Afghanistan. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon admitted that governments of different countries keep losing the battle with illegal drug trafficking.

Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Antonio Maria Costa presented a special report at the meeting of UN Security Council. He warned that drug trafficking is turning the African continent into the center of world crime. He said that the money gained from selling huge amounts of heroin and cocaine goes to terrorists and anti-government forces, not only in Africa, but other countries as well. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon mentioned that drug trafficking reduces the effectiveness of peace-keeping efforts in Afghanistan, Haiti, Myanmar, Columbia, and other hot spots.

The scale of African drug trafficking is impressive. In November, a Boeing 727 transporting 10 tons of cocaine from Venezuela crashed in Mali. African drug traffickers are working on a completely different level, often using planes instead of camels in the Sahara desert.

Drugs here are gradually becoming a new type of currency. "It is scary that this new example of the links between drugs, crime and terrorism was discovered by chance," Costa said.

He claimed that every year, 50 to 60 tons of cocaine travel through West Africa, mainly from South America. Guinea-Bissau is the main drug trafficking center in that region of the black continent. East Africa specializes in Afghan heroin. Every year, 30 to 35 tons of the white powder travel through this area. The two streams cross paths in Sahel, a large dry area to the South of the Sahara with various active militized groups.

Executive Director of the UNODC is also concerned that West Africa may soon become a large manufacturer of drugs. Interpol representatives recently found seven labs in Guinea-Bissau producing amphetamines and crystal meth. Anarchy that has been ruling in Somali for over 15 years helps to turn East Africa into the center of drug trafficking. This country has long become a free economic zone for criminals. Besides drugs, the country is a platform for trafficking illegal migrants, weapons, and hazardous waste.

Antonio Costa asked African countries to actively exchange information, improve legislation with respect to drug trafficking, and create a trans-Saharan organization to combat organized crime. This initiative was met with certain skepticism. For instance, Alfred W McCoy, a Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, expressed his doubts regarding forceful actions that will not be able to change the situation. He believes that little would change if the world community fails to address social and economic issues of the African continent.

Noviye Izvestia

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov