In recent years, coastal countries in West Africa have become the favoured passage for the transportation of cocaine to end markets in Europe.
The interior ministry of Ivory Coast revealed that over 2,000 kilograms of pure cocaine with a street value of about 41 billion CFA francs ($67.7 million), was seized by police officers in the commercial capital Abidjan and the port city of San Pedro.
Nine people, including Ivorians and foreign nationals, were arrested and authorities say investigations are currently underway to uncover under members of the syndicate.
Unlike before, cocaine seizures have become more popular on their preferred routes, forcing traffickers to create more elaborate ways to convey their products. With the help of corrupt local officials and senior law enforcement, the traffickers can transport a large quantity of cocaine through the use of second-hand cargo aircraft.
Traffickers tend to prefer this means because the airspace between Latin America and West-Africa is almost completely bereft of radar cover and national radar networks in most of West Africa are patchy at best, making it simple for narco-flights to evade detection.
A report by the UN’s drugs and crime office (UNODC) said that the amount of cocaine seized on the continent between 2015 and 2019, rose from 1.2 tonnes to 12.9 tonnes. Over this period, 54% of the seizures were conducted in West and Central Africa.
In 2021, an INTERPOL-coordinated operation mobilized law enforcement in 41 countries to arrest 287 individuals and seize illicit narcotics estimated to be worth nearly EUR 100 million. The authorities seized 21 kilos of cocaine powder and 169 pieces of crack cocaine from the traffickers.
In another operation in South Africa, Police Service seized 973 cocaine bricks, worth an estimated EUR 32 million, from a fishing vessel off the country’s western coast.