Why West Africa cannot break its drug habit
By Rose Skelton
The recent seizure of more than two tons of cocaine, worth an estimated $1billion in The Gambia has once again shone a light on West Africa as a major transit point for narcotics making their way from Latin America to Europe.
However, in the last three years, seizures of narcotics have gone down in the region.
"There has just been a repositioning of the criminal groups - they have changed their way of operating” says UNODC's Cyriaque Sobtafo
But despite the falling figures, the UNODC and people on the ground in West Africa say that the drugs trade is on the increase.
It is just that the traffickers are getting more sophisticated and the narcotics are getting harder to seize.
"Criminals understood that there was a lot of noise, a lot of talk in the media, so they stood back to assess the risk, so they have changed their way of operating."" says Cyriaque Sobtafo, deputy regional representative of the UNODC in the Senegalese capital,
This latest haul in the Gambian capital, Banjul, and one in Liberia last month in which four tons of Colombian cocaine thought to be en-route to the Unites States were found, suggests that the narcotics trade is alive and well.
Traffickers are using new entry-points and shipping ever-larger quantities of the drug in increasingly innovative ways.