News is reporting that the French-led intervention in Mali is
affecting the European cocaine trade. As well as funding themselves
by kidnapping foreigners and demanding ransoms Islamic fighters in
Mali also fund their operations by taxing drug smugglers in the
region trying to traffic cocaine into Europe. From Sky News:
Poverty and the lack of government presence in the vast desert
has provided an ideal ground for smugglers.
Typically, the drugs are shipped to the Gulf of Guinea or flown
in directly from countries including Venezuela into Mauritania or
Mali, where they are stored and eventually taken overland to the
Mediterranean’s southern shores.
The route is known as “Highway 10″ in reference to the 10th
parallel, a line of latitude which cuts through Colombia and
Venezuela at one end, Guinea and Nigeria at the other and just
In a report, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said that around
10% of the 172 tons of pure cocaine that entered Europe in 2010
transited through West Africa.
Unsurprisingly given the huge profits of the cocaine trade
smugglers are changing routes with comparative ease. Sky News is
reporting that new routes for smugglers are appearing in other
parts of Africa such as Angola, Libya, and the Great Lakes region.
The French-led intervention in Mali has managed to disrupt many
of the networks that Islamic militants were using, and it should
not be surprising that drug smugglers have adapted to the change.
It will be interesting to see how Islamic militants try to deal
with the loss in revenue. Given that kidnapping foreign hostages is
one of the ways Islamic militants fund themselves it is possible
that more foreigners will be kidnapped in the region in the near
defense minister said recently that French forces are planning
to have the Northeast of Mali secure by the end of the month and
that French forces will begin handing over to African forces in
April. However, at the beginning of
this month French officials said that French forces would be in
Mali until at least July, so we shouldn’t be surprised when the
summer arrives and French forces are still in Mali.
Read article here: