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Research Report

The Invisible Tide:: Towards an International Strategy to Deal with Drug Trafficking Through West Africa

James Cockayne
Phil Williams
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2009
Pages: 44

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. [i]-[i])
  2. (pp. [ii]-[iii])
  3. (pp. 1-3)
  4. (pp. 4-19)

    In the last half decade, West Africa has emerged as a major hub in the global drug economy.⁸ Between 2001 and 2006, annual cocaine seizures in the region increased fromapproximately 273 kilograms to just under 14,579 kilograms. Most of these seizures were made in Nigeria, reflecting that country’s enhancement of its law enforcement and interdiction capabilities.⁹ But in the four years from 2005 to 2008, annual seizures of cocaine destined for or coming from West Africa—rather than seizures inside the region—have in turn amounted to an additional 11 tons.10 Some of these large seizures seem to have been...

  5. (pp. 19-31)

    The international community is only just beginning to grasp the risks posed by drug trafficking through West Africa. National governments throughout the region are making significant efforts to improve their capacity to control the drug trade.92 In some cases—notably Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau— they have received extensive bilateral and multilateral assistance, and have made very good use of it (most notably in improving interdiction in Cape Verde). As discussed more fully below, operational bodies within the UN have begun to work closely with ECOWAS and INTERPOL to improve response capacity within the region. Yet the paucity of resources available,...

  6. (pp. 31-33)

    Without a more effective international response, the slowly rising tide of drugs and drug money creeping onto West Africa’s shores will, in time, exact a terrible toll. It will corrupt governments, police, and security forces. It will fuel crime, violence, and perhaps even drug wars. It will skew West Africa’s political economy towards what we describe as “junky economics.” It will fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS, exacerbate sexual violence, and encourage prostitution and sex trafficking. And it will fund illegal armed groups in Latin America and create pressures on European race relations, immigration policies, and law enforcement and military postures...

  7. (pp. 40-40)