Cocaine originating from Venezuela and Colombia is being routed through Liberia, reports the Wall Street Journal,
U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday brought narcotics-trafficking-related charges against nine men who prosecutors allege were attempting to use bribes to build a new West African smuggling route to Europe, in a case that involved top Liberian officials going undercover.
Prosecutors in New York accused the nine of attempting to bring more than $100 million of cocaine from Venezuela and Colombia to Liberia, with most of it destined for Europe and some for the U.S.
Remarkably, a relative of the the Liberian president herself aided the DEA on the operation,
Drug Enforcement Administration agents had the help of Fombah Sirleaf, stepson of Liberia’s president and director of the country’s national security agency, who went undercover and wore eavesdropping equipment for the investigation, according to indictments filed in U.S. District Court in New York.
According to prosecutors, the men claimed that the cocaine would be supplied by members of the rebel group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. U.S. authorities say the group has used drug trafficking to sustain its operations.
The trend remains, however, that the new drug route is through Africa, and part of the money goes towards financing terrorism:
U.S. officials say Colombian and Venezuelan traffickers in recent years have shipped billions of dollars of cocaine to Europe and the U.S. with the help of corrupt officials in African nations such as Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Togo and Nigeria.
A 2007 U.S. government assessment said that Colombian and Venezuelan traffickers were becoming entrenched in Western Africa, and were estimated to be shipping between 180 and 240 metric tons of cocaine annually, mostly aimed at the European market. In recent years, cocaine prices in Europe have yielded better profits than those in the U.S., American officials say. Some of the proceeds end up funding terror attacks by Colombian rebels, officials say.
In December, federal prosecutors in New York accused three alleged al Qaeda associates of attempting to smuggle hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into Europe via North Africa to raise money for terrorist groups.
In Latin America, drugs, crime and terrorism are all threads of one fabric.
This was the subject of this morning’s podcast.