States says West African countries have emerged as key transit hubs for cocaine
trafficked from South America to Europe. In its annual assessment of the drug
trade, the White House said drug trafficking is undermining the stability of
West African nations.
The Bush administration said drug traffickers have
focused their illegal activities in Guinea-Bissau, but have also recently
extended their operations south to Guinea.
The report said Nigeria is also a major
transit country for illegal drugs destined for the United States. However, the
report says Nigeria continues to make some progress on fighting drug
trafficking and has cooperated with the United States on drug-related money
Francis Munu is assistant inspector general for
crimes services for the Sierra Leone National Police. From the capital, Freetown, he told
VOA there are several reasons why drug traffickers have
targeted the West Africa sub-region.
is because there are now very rigorous tracking procedures if you have to
transfer the drugs from South America to North America or to Western Europe
because of improved technology, they find it difficult to use those routes for
fear of detection. Therefore they come to West Africa which is very vulnerable
in terms of having no capacity to detect drugs," he said.
also said rampant corruption in some countries has assisted the drug
traffickers to carry out their illegal trading.
we talk about corruption, it is a two-way process. It's not done by one person.
They receive the connivance of people, sometimes in high places so that the
drug dealers can have their way and then bring the drugs and transport to
Europe. So we know this is happening; it's part of organized crime activity,
and we have had to contend with this for quite some time now," Munu said.
month a Cessna Aircraft landed at Sierra Leone's Lungi International Airport
apparently without a landing permit and carrying about 700 kilograms of
said the Sierra Leone government, in conjunction with British authorities, has
launched an investigation and that charges would soon be brought against the
crewmembers of the aircraft.
government took a no nonsense stance in order to get to the bottom of the
matter to know who did this, why they did it, and who their collaborators are.
And at the moment we are finalizing the investigation and very shortly they
will be charged under a new law that has recently been promulgated that makes
provision for stiffer penalties than the previous legislation," he said.
said although individual West African countries have their own strategies to
combat drug trafficking, the region as a whole does not have a common approach
to deal with the increasing illegal drug trafficking in West Africa.
we do not have a harmonized activity to deal with this menace. Although
individual countries have their own strategies to address the problem, I
totally agree with the suggestion that we can only deal with it satisfactorily
if we have the communications, the collaboration and cooperation of other West
African states. But we find out that because there is this lack of cooperation,
the drug dealers targeted in one area and then they shift to another area. It's
quite a menace, and we need to have a concerted effort," Munu said.