“There are indications that they are trying to establish themselves in the region to produce drugs in the sub-region and also to encourage the consumption of drugs,” Said Djinnit told reporters after briefing the UN Security Council on the activities of the UN Office for West Africa which he heads.
He noted that while there has been a reduction in terms of drug seizures, “the problem of drug trafficking and organized crime is very serious” in the west African region.
“It needs a renewed commitment of the region… to face this challenge,” he added.
In recent years west Africa has emerged as an important transit point for South American cocaine being smuggled to the European markets.
Djinnnit said he was still waiting for the outcome of the investigation conducted by Bamako authorities after the November crash in insurgency-hit northern Mali of a Boeing plane used to transport cocaine from Venezuela to west Africa.
“The information so far available gives us the impression that drug trafficking networks are trying to adjust the ways they are conducting their business. They keep changing their modus operandi,” he noted.
Last month, Antonio Maria Costa, head of the Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) told the Security Council that “two streams of illicit drugs — heroin in east Africa and cocaine in west Africa — were now meeting in the Sahara, creating new trafficking routes across Chad, Niger and Mali.”
And he said the November crash of the drug-laden Boeing in Mali was a new example of “the links between drugs, crime and terrorism.”
Also last month, three alleged Al-Qaeda members faced charges in New York of trying to set up a drug trafficking ring in Africa to help finance terror operations, according to US officials.
The men, arrested in Ghana, were accused of contacting undercover informants in that country who were posing as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Latin America’s longest-standing guerilla outfit.
The men said Al-Qaeda could provide protection for the transportation of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from west Africa through north Africa and ultimately into Spain.