Senegal Uncovers the Cocaine Triangle
Drug trafficking network owe their success to collaboration from W. African Authorities


                                     By   Amin George Forji


   The West African country of Senegal is now making headline news after it twice intercepted and made a record seizure of cocaine last wednesday and on Sunday, at its seaside resort town of Nianing, south of the capital, being transported through an illegal network linking three continents, notably: South America, Africa and Europe. On each occasion it reported confiscating 1.2 tonnes of the drug.



A statement from the police in the capital, Dakar explaining the circumstances of the seizure indicated that the smugglers of the first seizure successfully fled their boat by the shore when a police yacht approached them. A thorough search led to the latter discovering 1,254 kilograms of cocaine and clues that led them to the second seizure and arrests. These items included ID cards, two guns, a cell phone, and airline tickets from Rio to Cali in Colombia; another transit ticket from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil through Guinea-Bissau  to Lisbon in Portugal and from Lisbon back to Guinea-Bissau-an indication that much of the drugs had already been successfully transited from South America to Europe.



 It further showed implied that West African countries along the Atlantic coast had become a major hub for international cocaine trafficking. Tonnes of the drugs from South America were surely stored in Guinea-Bissau or Senegal, ready for shipment to Europe each time there was a new order. In there words, the smugglers had established a well-coordinated network of drug smuggling between these three continents. Sierra Leone and Ghana have also made key interceptions of cocaine smuggling in recent weeks.



Six suspects-three from Senegal and three others from Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia are already in police custody in Dakar, and four others are said to be on the run-two of whom are said to be Senegalese. The nationality of the other two is yet to be disclosed.



Guinea-Bissau has become the “Afghanistan of Africa”, with even top officials in the government and the police involved in the trafficking. Last September, authorities in Guinea- Bissau reported confiscating over 600kg of cocaine on transit from Brazil to Europe.



More than 600kg was seized in Bissau last September but disappeared after being stored in the treasury. Prime Minister Aristides Gomes later appeared on state radio and announced that the drugs had been burned on his orders. It was later proven several months after, following leak information to the press that the drugs had in fact disappeared from the treasury, rather than being burnt. The scandal led to the arrest of seven former top government officials, including former ministers and police commissioners.



1.2 tonnes of cocaine is evaluated to cost over $100 million. This is enough temptation, especially for officials in the poor West African countries, many of whose incomes are just enough for subsistence. As a result, some of the officials have in the past taken the risk of making a u-turn and using their influence to facilitate the trafficking and make thousands of dollars in compensation.


 Would the drugs confiscated in Senegal go the same way as those in Guinea-Bissau? Let’s wait and see.


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