25 tonnes of cocaine worth $1b passes through West Africa – Report

25 tonnes of cocaine estimated at $1 billion shipped from South America have been allowed to pass through the borders of countries of the West Africa sub-region before reaching final destinations in Western Europe in 2008, a World Bank report says.

The report titled “World Development Report 2011” which deals with conflict, security and development, reveals that by the time the cocaine leaves West Africa and gets to its final destinations in Western Europe, it is valued at some $6.8 billion.

“In 2008 an estimated 25 tonness of cocaine passed through West Africa, with a transit value of about $1 billion by the time it reached West Africa, and an ultimate value of some $6.8 billion at its destinations in Western Europe”, the April 2011 report said.

Drug traffickers use some of the profits to bribe government officials. The report cited the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment for West Africa as saying “Law enforcement officials can be offered more than they could earn in a lifetime simply to look the other way.”

International drug traffickers began using West Africa as a base for shipping cocaine from South America to Europe in 2004 due to institutional weaknesses in countries of the region.

Facts presented in the report indicates that the annual value of the global trade in cocaine and heroin today is estimated at $153 billion (heroin $65 billion and cocaine $88 billion).

“Europe and North America consumes 53% of heroin and 67% of cocaine; however, the high retail prices in these markets mean that economic share of consumption in Europe and North America is even higher: cocaine consumption in the two regions accounted for an estimated $72 billion of the $88 billion in global trade”, it revealed.

Due to the absence of the rule of law often in countries affected by violence, the report said according to various studies, “organized crime generates annual revenues ranging from $120 billion to as high as $330 billion, with drug trafficking the most profitable. Other estimates suggest that the world’s shadow economy, including organized crime, could be as high as 10 percent of GDP globally.”

In Central America, the report shows that conservative estimates suggest there are 70,000 gang members, outnumbering the military personnel there.

Drugs provide the money to corrupt and manipulate even the most powerful societies at the detriment of the urban poor who find themselves trapped in environments traumatized by criminal violence.

Meanwhile in Ghana, the Operation West Bridge project, which was introduced at Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport by the UK government, has intercepted illicit drugs worth £214 million since its inception in 2007, officials at the British High Commission in Accra told ghanabusinessnews.com.


By Ekow Quandzie

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