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Cocaine Trafficking in West Africa: The Threat to Stability and Development (with special reference to Guinea-Bissau)

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2007
41 pages
This report describes the shift in West African cocaine trafficking, possible causes, and potential consequences.
Cocaine trafficking in West Africa is impacting the stability and development in the region. Guinea-Bissau has been the subject of concern for some time, due to the relative weakness of the country, and the evidence that it is being used as part of a major drug transshipment route. In the 3 years between 2005 and 2007, some 33 tons of cocaine have been seized bound for Europe in West Africa. Prior to this time, seizures for the entire continent has rarely exceeded 1 ton annually. Cocaine is not the only illicit drug trafficked through West Africa and drug trafficking is not the only transnational criminal venture spending in the region. Criminal networks, based in West Africa, have also been trafficking in human beings, small arms, light weapons, and natural resources, as well as having been involved in the smuggling of migrants, counterfeiting, e-fraud, and the illegal dumping of toxic wastes. Although there is no reliable estimate of the amount of dirty money reinvested in West African countries, the amounts can be considerable. Strengthening border and territorial controls, law enforcement agencies' operational capabilities, legal frameworks, and enforcement mechanisms against organized crime, money laundering, and corruption are all measures required to restore the authority of the state and the rule of law. Socioeconomic development is also key for rebuilding countries like Guinea-Bissau, but development assistance must reach its intended beneficiaries. Complete transparency and strict accountability is required in the allocation and use of the development assistance. In post-conflict weakened countries like Guinea-Bissau, reconstruction must start with the security and justice sectors and be accompanied by economic investments. International support is needed to help governments in the region firmly establish justice and security as one of the cornerstones of their countries' development. Tables