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West Africa Drug Trafficking


An aerial view of Praia, capital city of Cape Verde.

Illicit drug traffickers are increasingly using West Africa as a transshipment point for illicit drugs.

Due to the region's porous borders, instability and lack of law enforcement resources, traffickers are increasingly using West Africa as a transshipment point for illicit drugs. Interpol, the international police organization, estimates that in cocaine alone every year some 50 tons worth $1.8 billion moves from Latin America to Europe through the region. Serious consequences in human, economic and governance terms are already being seen, threatening regional security and social erosion.

Located 450 kilometers off of Senegal and on a major mid-Atlantic corridor linking South and Central America to Africa and Europe, the island nation of Cape Verde is right in the path of this scourge. For that reason, it works closely with the United States and many other nations on maritime and drug interdiction issues.

U.S. officials recently visited a newly opened maritime security coordination center near the capital, Praia. [PRAH-yah] The facility was built with U.S. support, and despite its small size and population, Cape Verde has committed significant resources to fully staff the center. The Cape Verdean military, police and justice system are also fully engaged in cooperative counternarcotics efforts with other nations.

This multinational cooperation is vital and should be applauded. With the pace of globalization increasing, international problems require international coordination for the solutions to be effective.

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