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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, February 15, 2013

Jihadists and Latin American drug traffickers merge

Anne Marie Mergier Proceso (2-13-2013)

Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat

The radical Islamist groups who operate in the Sahara, the Sahel* and in the West Africa regions finance their military activities with money from drug trafficking. They have negotiated agreements with Latin American cartels to transport drugs through the areas they control intended for the European market. With their focus on attacking Islamic terrorism, the governments of the European Union have neglected the drug trafficking phenomenon in the African Continent. Experts warn that narcos, jihadists and corrupt politicians could consolidate into an "explosive coalition" in the region.

(*Note: The Sahel region lies in parts of  Senegal, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan. -- un vato) 

PARIS (proceso).-- "The struggle against Islamic terrorism has so absorbed the attention of Western leaders that their battle against drug trafficking has moved to a secondary plane. It's a pity. Perhaps the chaos that took Mali to the edge of collapse and provoked French military intervention, as well as the ever more devastating role that drug trafficking plays in the Sahel and West Africa regions will make them rethink their priorities," declares Alain Rodier.

A former officer with French intelligence services, Rodier carried out several missions in Afghanistan in the 1980's and since then, he follows closely the evolution of Al Quaeda. An expert in transnational organized crime and Islamic terrorism, author of a book on Chinese Triads, another on Iran and two more on Al Quaeda, Rodier is chief of research with the French Center of Intelligence Research (CF2R: Centre Francais de Recherche sur le Renseignement).

He explains to the reporter: "During the last decade, Latin American cartels created new routes in Africa to transport cocaine and synthetic drugs to Europe and, to a lesser degree, to the United States. All of the continent is affected by drug trafficking, from South Africa to the Magreb countries. Independent research centers --like the CF2R and specialized institutions within the UN or in the European Union -- tried to alert the politicians. They weren't successful.

"It didn't take long to see the results. The drug trafficking gangrene infected the majority of the West Africa governments and established contact with radical Islamic groups. Today, we are faced with a new, very explosive phenomenon; "narco jihadists."

[at left] Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, former special representative of the UN Secretary General in West Africa, Somalia and Burundi, and who for two years has presided over the Center for Security Strategies in the Sahel and the Sahara -- a private organization with headquarters in Mauritania--, shares Rodier's concerns.

In an interview on February 3 last year with Christophe Champin, a Radio France International specialist on drug trafficking in Africa, Abdallah stated: "I think that by focusing so much on the problem of terrorism, there is a risk of underestimating the gravity of the drug trafficking problem. What surprises me is that Western intelligence services are aware of everything, but they seem to be interested only in terrorism."

The African trampoline

Jihadist combatants are not the only ones talking with Latin American drug traffickers in Africa, and above all in the Sahel-Sahara and West Africa zones. This is shown by reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and specific reports from institutions like the Research and Information Group for Peace and Security (GRIP, Groupe de Recherche et d'Information sur la Paix et la Securite, an independent center based in Brussels), or the Carnegie International Foundation.

Experts realize that, while cocaine consumption has stabilized in the United States, it is growing exponentially in Europe. According to their calculations, in 1998, demand in the United States was four times greater than in Europe, but in 2009, both were almost the same, with 157 tons in the U.S. and 123 (tons) in Europe.

They also point out that, while most of the cocaine continues to "travel" directly by boat from Latin America to Europe, since the start of this century drug traffickers are increasingly using the African continent to warehouse and redistribute the drug. 

Georges Berghezan, GRIP researcher, explains in the introduction to his report "Panorama of Cocaine Trafficking in West Africa," published last June: 

"During the course of this last decade, cocaine trafficking established itself as an extremely important illegal activity in Africa. The crises that are shaking Mali and Guinea-Bissau demonstrate its potential to destabilize. The impact is due to the involvement of the security forces' high commands, of members of the ruling elite, of armed groups that pursue military or simply criminal objectives. All these actors are connected directly or indirectly with an army of professional drug traffickers disguised as "economic operators."

He specifies: "After arriving by boat or by air from Latin America, the largest share of the cocaine quickly leaves West Africa on its way to Europe. Drug traffickers multiply the itineraries and the modes of transportation. Up until 2009, transporting cocaine was the "specialty" of the countries on the Atlantic coast.

"But after the year 2000,  it was concentrated on the countries of the Sahel, like Mali, where there are immense deserts difficult to patrol, weak and corrupt central governments and a myriad of small armed groups looking for revenues to control ever larger territories.

"In that context, it is the traffickers who benefit from the disintegration of the Libyan State. They obtain cheap weapons and take advantage of  a lack of border controls," emphasizes Berghezan, then  he launches into a case by case analysis of the impact of Latin American drug trafficking on the 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States.

It is devastating

He starts with Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa (162 million inhabitants). In 2006, authorities in that country confiscated 14 tons of cocaine in the port of Lagos that came from Peru hidden in sacks of cement. Four years later, in July 2010,  450 kilos of cocaine were confiscated, also in Lagos. They arrested a Nigerian customs official and two Chinese businessmen. The boat had left Chile and made stops in Peru and Belgium. Last year, the Nigerian National Drug Law enforcement Agency -- advised by the DEA -- seized 110 kilos of cocaine from a boat that came from South America.

But the zones of influence of the Nigerian cartels, who negotiate detailed agreements with their Latin American counterparts -- the reports consulted by the reporter never mention the names of these mafias -- reach beyond the borders of their own country.

Berghezan emphasizes: "The two principal poles for the arrival of cocaine in West Africa are the Gulf of Benin and the maritime zones along the coasts of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. In these two areas, it is the Nigerian cartels who rule and who collect the major share of the three billion dollars ($3,000,000,000.00) generated by drug trafficking in all of Africa."

Not all drug traffickers come out unharmed from their activities. On of them, Nigerian Chigbo Peter Umeh, was arrested in Liberia in the middle of negotiations to send several tons of cocaine to the United States. He was extradited to that country, were he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Also, Berghezan points out that the Nigerians are particularly active in Italy, where they have agreements with the Calabrese mafia, the 'Ndrangheta.

The seizure of large quantities of drugs in Benin shows that that country, like the others in the region, has been infected with the drug trafficking gangrene. The numbers are eloquent: 100 kilos of cocaine seized at the home of a former Minister of Finance and Economics in 2006; 350 kilos confiscated from a drug trafficker from Ghana in 2007;  200 kilos seized from a Pakistani cargo ship in the port of Cotonu and 400 kilos a few weeks later in the same port.

Togo is not far behind: In October, 2008, 500 kilos of cocaine were seized near the port of Lome and eight Colombians were arrested and extradited to the United States.

It worries the GRIP researcher that high ranking officers in the Togo armed services, including relatives of President Faure Gnassingbe are involved in drug trafficking. At least, that's what WikiLeaks documents show.

The same problem affects Ghana, whose inertia in the face of drug trafficking was also revealed by confidential communications leaked by WikiLeaks. Little is known about what is happening in Senegal. Alassane Ouattara (who came to power in April of 2011 with the support of France and UN forces) seems determined to combat the local consumption of drugs. In August, 2012, he announced the seizure and incineration of two tons of cocaine, without providing more details.

Sierra Leone also seems to attract Latin American drug traffickers, as shown by the 2007 seizure -- by Venezuelan authorities -- of 2.5 tons of cocaine hidden in a private aircraft that made an unauthorized landing at the Lungi airport. The network of drug traffickers arrested included six Colombians, a Cuban with a Togo passport and a Mexican. Three Colombians, the Cuban and the Mexican were extradited to the United States.

The airplane carried Venezuelan Red Cross registry and had taken off from the Colombia-Venezuela border.

Guinea is a special case. In December, 2008, after the death of President Lansama Conte, who was overthrown by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, the scope of the complicity between the former president, his family, high ranking police, armed forces and customs officials and drug trafficking was revealed to the public.

However, in February, 2008, the French Navy and the DEA intercepted a Panamanian cargo ship, El Junior, when its crew -- made up of Greek, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau sailors-- was throwing more than three tons of cocaine packed into107 boxes into the sea. The operation was carried out thanks to the cooperation between the French intelligence services, the DEA and Greek authorities. The Greek shipper  of the El Junior, Nikolaus Karnilakis, was given a life sentence in Greece.

Often described as the first African "narco-state" or as a mafioso State, Guinea-Bissau is a poor country whose swampy coasts shelter a multitude of small islands in the Bissagos Archipelago. Since 2005, it is obvious that Latin American and Nigerian drug traffickers are taking advantage of that country's decadence to establish bases of operation there.

A not very exhaustive list of the quantities of cocaine seized gives an idea of the true scope of the trafficking: 700 kilos in 2005; 600 kilos, then two tons more in 2007; 500 kilos in 2008...

In 2007, while the DEA was reporting that each night between 800 and a thousand kilos of cocaine enter Guinea-Bissau exclusively by air, it became known that that country's authorities had leased port facilities, airports and several islands to drug traffickers.

That same year, a UN report brought the incident before the Security Council. It was analyzed for seven minutes then forgotten. On March 2, 2009, President Joao Bernardo Vieira was hacked to death with a machete. Everything seems to indicate, according to Berghezan, that drug traffickers caused his death.

The situations in Gambia, Cabo Verde, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso are also worrisome, as is the involvement of the Frente Polisario in drug trafficking.  [The Frente Polisario is an African  national liberation group.--un vato]

But Mali breaks records. The airport  in Bamako is full of "mules" controlled by Nigerian cartels. In addition, the annals in Africa will always memorialize the case of the half-incinerated Boeing 737 found in 2009 near the city of Gao. The aircraft had left Venezuela and made a clandestine landing in Mali. It is estimated that it could have transported about seven tons of cocaine, which disappeared before the airplane went up in flames.

The UNODC mentions two other "strange" flights: The case of the Beechcraft BE 300, also from Venezuela, which landed on the frontier between Mali and Mauritania at the end of January, 2010. That same day, the arrival of a second airplane carrying cocaine was detected near the city of Timbuktu.

Afterwards, there was talk about a third airplane that had transported four tons of cocaine in the Kaynes region on the border with Guinea, and of a last aircraft that landed close to the frontier with Niger. In these latter two cases, regional public officials had received the aircraft.

At the close of this edition, Rodier informed the reporter that on Monday, (February) 4, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) police arrested seven drug traffickers who were transporting synthetic drugs and cocaine from Brazil via the following route: From airports in Punta Negra and Maya Maya (Congo-Brazzaville) to Johannesburg (South Africa), then to the (airports) in Kinshasa and Luano (DRC). The criminals were arrested along with their alleged accomplices: immigration and police officials.

All the cases mentioned in our reports are merely the visible parts of an immense iceberg," concludes Rodier. "There's an urgent need to gauge the problem adequately and to prevent the consolidation of that explosive coalition between drug traffickers, jihadists and corrupt politicians in Africa. The future of that continent and the security of Europe are at risk."


  1. Oh brudder. How many versions of this nonsense have we heard on this site, none of which ever pan out?

  2. Nothing new narco jihadists have been around since the days of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

  3. Africa is gonna take its money back from the white Europeans and hook them on smack

  4. Un Vato, a timely and excellent article. I have been folling the collapse of many African countries for the past few years. This is spot on in ecery aspect. As to a solution, in my humble opinión, there is little that can be done. The taliban have taken over many countries, and the time to do anything has passed. I have many friends all over Africa and if you live in the northern Africa,you are screwed. Between corrupt entire goverments,drug dealers, the taliban, and pirates...they have lost hope. God bless ll the innocents worldwide, there are millions of them. Thanks, Texas Grandma. Peace.

  5. i have a nugget of common sense that is as rare as a kidney stone from King Midas himself - Are you sitting down ? should i give you a moment to prepare your self for this simple highly effective concept ? Legalize it .... there i said it . Use the money from taxation to : drive down the cost of all medications across the board , Education that is bombarded into the brains of the youth with real facts and truths , just as they do with materialistic bullshit from advertising on Disney and Nick and what ever bullshit marketing tactics they use to hawk the newest thing they feel kids gotta have ! Take away the source of power from the groups they use to fear monger into the brains of the masses to justify the Killing of people who have no other reason to hate us but our twisted hypocritical foreign policies ? The average American has no desire to hate or wish some people from somewhere else any ill will we support our troops because we have flesh and blood relatives friends and our youth in the military who are there not to wage war but to better them selves and provide for their families ! Bottom Line ! and if legalization was a reality they would not be fighting these common Drug Dealers on the level they are now ! There is enough money in the world of pharmacology to provide a better way of life for every man woman and child ! As a race of people- 1 Fucking race - the human race ! I hope somebody some where with the power and common sense will step up and be the catalyst of this formula of common knowledge and simple truth ! I remain optimistic ... But then again Im a common sense type of person .

  6. I guess Chivis is poorly or she working on stories,i don't dig on her,but shit man,blog goes asleep if she aint on deck.Who mods the comments an shit?Anyway,yeya,i know this shit aint goin up,,sayin.

  7. some admin cannot see the forest for the trees.
    i see all too many far reaching cartel activities being reported when the activities in our backyards are overlooked. i am saddened by the lack of coverage about heavily armed 10 man squads invading American civilian homes, top law enforcement personnel cooperation with cartels ongoing saga and on and on...
    admin i have said it before and i will end up saying it again "find all news outlets along the border and review info that pertains to the border drug war".

  8. I have been ill for a couple weeks and yesterday they chivis-napped me for a day of IV treatments etc. I am feeling better today, so hopefully will feel stronger. I ask for patience while I get caught up....Paz, Chivis

  9. There is NO WAY that they will ever get the drug trade out of Africa. As a matter of fact - it will just get a lot worse there. I know that place well. Nearly all the countries in Africa are just as corrupt as Mexico, and their police forces are even weaker. In fact, if things get very tough for the Z and Sinaloa in Mexico and Central America ... I would not be surprised if they move to Africa.

  10. @3:41 I don't necessarily agree with the way you make the arguement but I totally agree that legalizing and regulating recreational drugs - those historically so, not the new creations - just like tabacco and alcohol now. This will deflate the associated criminal activity and severly reduce the wasted resources used to combat trafficing illegal substances. Hell, create a sort of NAFTA-like cartel of govts unifying the trade and making it more efficient. So much waste of all kinds, from human life to gasoline, goes to an industry - law inforcement - which produces absolutely no enrichment to the world. Nothing added. Much lost.

  11. I'll be patient,your story's are worth the wait Chivis.

  12. Great research, keep up the good work, get well soon.

  13. The only way these guys are tied together laundering and some sense of ideology.Hezbollah def. active with Colombian and some central
    American laundering and diplomatic passports to be able to.move thru different zones...
    atte....ThinkTank 28.7 Narcovision

  14. Harlingen Texas U.S.A.
    A Harlingen resident is upset over the presence of armed security guards in her neighborhood.
    The woman said more guns in the neighborhood make for a volatile mix.
    Her comments come in the wake of a shootout on the 2300 block of West Adrian Street, just before 10 p.m. Thursday.
    Police said two suspects got out of a blue-greenish minivan and opened fire on a house and vehicles outside.
    A 22-year-old security guard hired by the homeowner was in a vehicle outside the house and returned fire.
    The guard wasn't hit, but he was taken to the hospital for treatment of a shoulder injury. He injured his shoulder when he jumped to the ground, police said.
    Five children in the house and their babysitter were not injured.
    "I heard pop, pop, pop, pop," the woman said.
    She said this is the first sound of gunfire in the neighborhood in 25 years.
    The security guard emptied his clip during the firefight.
    "These people had made threats, verbal threats that they were coming back," Border Security and Investigations Owner John Chamber said.
    Chamber said the homeowner hired his guards after someone threatened his family.
    He said the guard was trying to repel the aggression when he opened fire.
    Still, that doesn't satisfy the woman.
    "I'm mad because of the security," the woman said. She said bullets flying near houses with children aren't the answer.
    "This is the first actual time in 20-some years that I'm scared," the woman said.

  15. SULLIVAN CITY - Hidalgo County sheriff's deputies and Border Patrol agents are increasing their presence in Sullivan City, officials said.

    Local residents said the increase in patrols is overdue. They said their small community has become a hot spot for drug and human smuggling.

    Sullivan City's police department is small, and some residents said the department is part of the problem.

    "There is a lot of crime," Hector Flores said. He is a 30-year resident of the town.

    "There are not enough police officers here," Flores said.

    Flores said the town's police department can't keep up with the needs of the community.

    "I know everybody here. I just don't want to be put in the middle of anything," another Sullivan City resident said.

    The resident, who asked not to be identified, said the police department contributes to the rising crime problem.

    "Everybody can get away with whatever," the resident said.

    Border Patrol and Hidalgo County Sheriff's Department officials said they want to change the perception locals have of law enforcement. The also intend to crack down on crime.

    "The men and woman of the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol sector and Sullivan City police ... are here to get the job done," Rio Grande Border Patrol Sector Chief Rosendo Hinojosa said.

    The town's police department has been without a chief for almost a year.

    "I want to see more protection," Flores said.
    krgv news

  16. Parents Seek Justice for Slain Agent
    WESLACO - On the eve of the second anniversary of their son's death, Mary and Amador Zapata are no closer to finding out why their son died on a desolate highway near San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
    Their son, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata, died after an ambush in Feb. 15, 2011. His partner Victor Avila was injured in the attack perpetrated by drug cartel members.
    "From the government, we want answers. We want to know why he was sent on the journey," Mary Zapata said.
    "Nothing has happened, we still haven't heard from them. We are still searching for answers," she said.
    "The government talks too pretty, that's all it does. Other than that, it will not respond, not do anything for you," Amador Zapata said.
    After numerous requests to the Department of Justice and various other federal law enforcement agencies, the Zapata family decided to file a lawsuit.
    "The reason we're at this point, is because every other avenue in search of the truth has been without success," family co-counsel Ray Thomas.
    Thomas and Trey Martinez have been working on behalf of the Zapata family for nearly two years.
    CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke with both attorneys last year about the case. They showed a paper trial documenting their efforts to get information on the case.
    The lawsuit filed this week goes further. Thomas and Martinez said it's the last recourse in the case.
    "You do have to add in the individuals responsible for putting the guys on the road. You do have to add in the companies or individuals that had to do with the vehicle ... a vehicle they haven't seen even after requests," Martinez said.
    "You have to deal with those involved in gun-walking operations, including people that authorized them knowing it may be dangerous. You have to include the people that sold the guns, pawn shops ... people who were straw-purchasers of the weapons that found their way into Mexico and were used in killing of Jaime and the injury to Victor," Martinez said.
    The days, weeks and months ahead will be filled with challenges, but Thomas remains determined.
    "We've told them we may never recover a penny, but we'll uncover the truth," Thomas said.
    Zapata's parents said they have to see the process through.
    "Shortly after Jaime passed away, I had a dream where Jaime was facing me and he said, ‘Mom you have to speak for me. I can't speak.' I feel I have to seek justice for my son ... as he would have done for us or anyone," Mary Zapata said.

  17. I've been looking at Mali for some time now. And I've been waiting to see if Latin American drugs flowing to Africa becomes a two way street.
    From August 2011

  18. Islam is a Disease that must be eradicated..
    They cannot live in Peace with others, it is plain and simple!

  19. its all about the money fellas money corrupts and africa is poor its a good stategy for cartels 2 move drugs through there give out some cash and in no time your in euorupes front door narcos are smart really smart the law needs a new strategy heres an idea just legalize it make money and help poor countrys.. drug money will send the world into chaos... if people like 2 get high let em its their lives no one can ever tell anyone how 2 live... peace.... im out...

  20. "legalize it make money and help poor countrys"
    The continent of Africa has been getting help for a long time,it is the human factor.Why is Africa still in the shape it is in?Because of the political climate and political correctness,we cannot address the real issues at hand,namely the corruption and absolute disregard for their own people by the leaders.Man is said to have sprung from that continent,why has it not progressed?Look at what became of Zimbabwe,he uses race as a tool,when he is himself ultra racist.They are the architects of their own problems,much the same way as other nations,race does indeed play a part,but now it is reversed and used as a platform for re-election.Instead of educating their own people they use propaganda for selfish aims.One decent man could make a change,but,will it happen.Power corrupts and all that,,,

  21. @ islam is a disease that must be eradicated
    they cannot live in peace with others. its plain
    and simple.
    you clearly dont know that islam christianity,and judaism come from the same
    all though today its not really about religion
    that make these 3 groups hate eachother.
    its mostly beef over land or money/dictator and
    oil that mostly cuse muslims to go ape s##t
    maybe if your capitalist slave masters stops stealing oil
    from islamic countrys than just maybe they would
    stop hateing us. americans should have thought
    maybe we shouldnt be in bengazi becuse
    the people that took down gadafi were not
    big on americans in there new libya gadafi free.



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