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Cocaine trafficking cartels move from latin america to africa

Posted on September 24, 2009 3:00 AM EST

Miami is no longer the only stepping off point for Latin American drug cartels. Latin American cocaine trafficking cartels have set up shop in the western region of Africa. Officials from the Drug Enforcement Agency declare that 9 of the top cocaine trafficking cartels have established bases in at least 11 West African Nation, with the forerunner being Guinea-Bissau. Although Guinea-Bissau is the fifth poorest nation in the world, it is ripe for the drug trade because the drug cartels work with the local criminal gangs to traffic cocaine. West Africa has earned the title "The Coke Coast". Although crossing the Atlantic to engage in cocaine trafficking is an interesting concept, it certainly will not provide any cases to Miami criminal lawyers specializing in cocaine trafficking cases.

A University of Miami professor explained that the movement of cocaine trafficking to Africa is a direct result of the increase in demand for cocaine in Europe. While the demand for cocaine in the United States has dramatically fallen in the United States since the 1980s, the European markets demand has increased significantly. A UN report explained that cocaine use in the United States is 50% lower than it was in the eighties and that European countries have seen the demand for cocaine double or even triple in recent years. Another report revealed that 1,000 tons of pure cocaine is produced every year with nearly 60% of the product making it to market. Cocaine is 70 billion dollar a year industry.

Of the 1,000 tons of cocaine that are produced each year, 250 tons are earmarked for Europe. Recent reports revealed that 27% of cocaine that makes it to Europe comes through West Africa. While a kilo of cocaine goes for about $22,000 in the United States, the sane amount sell for $45,000 in Europe. The cocaine trafficking cartels are keenly aware of the tremendous profits available for their product. Another interesting fact is that the European Union recently began issuing a 500 Euro note (equivalent to $700). Cocaine traffickers find it easier to transport large bills which is why Europe is being the targeted by the cartels.

The cocaine trafficking cartels are also aware that the DEA has a reduced presence in the area. The DEA has offices in Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa to cover an area 11.7 million square miles. The political corruption, lack of police and military forces allow the cartels to operate with a free hand. Even if a cocaine trafficker is arrested, his release is usually secured in a matter of hours. Columbian and Venezuelan cocaine traffickers align themselves with criminal groups and terrorists that saturate the West African countries. Despite the distance between West Africa and the United States, the federal government is aware of the danger of terrorist groups such as al Qaeda aligning themselves with drug cartels.

Latin American Drug Cartels Find Home in West Africa, CNN.com, September 21, 2009.
Categories: Drug Offenses