Latin American and West African nations are
especially vulnerable, they said.
‘This is a phenomenon that worries us --
countries that in the past were only used by
major trafficking organizations as repositories
or safe havens are seeing a spill-over effect,’
said Stephen Brown of the Drugs Intelligence
Unit of Interpol, the international police
‘Drugs are not only moving through these
countries but staying there.’
He was speaking at Interpol’s annual general
meeting, which has brought together law
enforcement officials from more than 150
countries in Rio de Janeiro -- a city whose
teeming slums are ruled by drugs traffickers.
The flow of cocaine from Latin America to West
Africa, where it is moved on to Europe or Asia
or kept for domestic consumption, had soared in
the past five years.
‘The levels have now reached multi-tonne
shipments that are coming in regularly ,’ Brown
Ten huge Latin American-African cocaine
shipments had been intercepted in the past five
years, including a recent record seizure of 14.2
tonnes coming from Peru, said Muazu Umaru, chief
superintendent of the Nigerian anti-narcotics
‘We are not smiling because of that seizure --
we are much more concerned,’ Umaru said.
In Latin America, a big cocaine shipment was
seized two weeks ago in Uruguay, not previously
regarded as a significant transit route or user
Suppliers in producer countries Colombia, Peru
and Bolivia were now relying less on the
Caribbean as a shipping route because of more
effective policing, but they were increasingly
aiming at markets in southern Latin America such
as Chile, Brazil and Argentina.
‘Every country has the potential to be a
trafficking country, then it’s only a matter of
years before it develops into a user country,’
Thousands of gangs from many different countries
were involved in the drugs trade, linking up to
cover different areas of the smuggling
operation, the officials said.
‘The international drug trafficking scene has
graduated into a global drug trafficking
alliance ... if Latin American crooks want to
warehouse drugs in West Africa, they have to
deal with the locals,’ Umaru said.
On the good news, anti-narcotics agencies
reckoned they were seizing about 50 per cent of
cocaine produced. On the other hand, cocaine
abuse was spreading to India and China. And
Mexican gangs were becoming more powerful.
There were ‘alarming signs’ of increased poppy
growing and heroin production in Afghanistan,
harming Iran, Pakistan and the Central Asian
republics, Brown said. Ecstasy was now spreading
from Europe to North America and Southeast Asia.
The problems of the drugs trade are evident in
the host city itself, which suffers from endemic
crime. The Interpol delegates are meeting in an
army fort on a promontory off Copacabana Beach,
guarded by a big security operation, but the
slums in the hillsides behind the beach are
ruled by drugs gangs, whose bloody battles for
control of the local market often spill over
into the city streets.