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Fight Against Drug Trafficking: 805 kg of Cocaine Seized by the Navy

Drug seizures in Senegalese waters are increasing. After those of June and October 2021, the French Navy has succeeded in a new operation. Dirpa informs us that it was intercepted, on Sunday night, a ship with more than 800 kg of cocaine on board. Adding the latest seizures made by Customs a few weeks ago, this shows that hard drug trafficking is intensifying in the area.

Are Senegalese waters transit areas for cartels? This is a new operation that the French Navy has just succeeded in the fight against drug trafficking. Even if it is not the biggest seizure, it nevertheless shows a situation that is becoming commonplace. According to the Dirpa, the French Navy intercepted a ship involved in international drug trafficking: it is… more than 800 kg of cocaine. The patrol boat « Kédougou », which put an end to the traffic… 335 km off the capital. Without giving details of the intercepted vessel, its crew, its point of departure or the value of the cargo, the military and judicial authorities are in the process of tracing the follow-up to be given to this case.

Today, cocaine trafficking in our waters is a serious security threat. Drug seizures are multiplying in the country. In October, Senegalese Customs seized 300 kg of cocaine, hidden in a refrigerated truck from Mali. A few days later, they managed to thwart an attempt to introduce drugs into the national territory. The seizure took place in Kaolack and involved 25 kg of pure cocaine consisting of 25 packets of white powder of 1 kg each and with a total value of CFA 2 billion.

For the French Navy, drug seizures on the high seas are beginning to become commonplace. On 17 October 2021, it had successfully carried out an interception operation 196 nautical mile (363 km) from Dakar, of a vessel named La Rosa with 5 crew members involved in international drug trafficking. The first searches made it possible to discover on board cocaine for an estimated weight of 2026 kg. The operation was carried out thanks to the air support of the Casa 235 maritime aircraft of the Air Force and the French Falcon 50 aircraft stationed in Dakar.

Funding of Armed Groups

This new seizure of drugs at sea is the third recorded in recent months. On June 27, 2021, the French Navy also intercepted a ship with a large quantity of hashish. While Dirpa did not give details on the quantity of the cargo, it was discovered that the boat was carrying 8.333 tons of hashish. 21 days before, on June 6, 2021, eight tons of hashish were seized off Dakar.

Looking at the latest UNODC report, published on 27 June, we must be concerned about the circulation of drugs.According to it, between 2019 and 2022, « At least 57 tons of cocaine was seized in West Africa en route to this region, mainly in Cape Verde (16.6 tons), Senegal (4.7 tons), Benin (3.9 tons), Côte d’Ivoire (3.5 tons), Gambia (3 tons) and Guinea-Bissau (2.7 tons). » What can I say? Long considered a simple transit area, West and Central Africa has also become a region of high drug consumption, notes UNODC.

Pointing out that in this region, « 9.7% of the population aged 15 to 64 used cannabis in 2020 and 2.4% of pharmaceutical opioids for non-medical purposes » more than « global estimates of 3.8% and 1.2% respectively« , according to UNODC. In her report, she points out that « drug use in Africa mainly affects young men under the age of 35 » and that « 93% of people treated for drug use disorders in Africa are men » whose « average age is about 30 years ».

In addition, the UN body recalls that « attacks on the rule of law, generated by conflicts and political tensions, offer an environment conducive to the production and trafficking of drugs, generating income for armed groups which, in turn, fuel conflicts ». For example, « Sahelian armed groups are trafficking cannabis resin, mainly produced in North Africa for consumer markets in Europe and the Middle East. This trafficking sometimes gives rise to deadly clashes between armed groups in the region. »

The report estimates that « while 90% of cocaine seized worldwide follows sea routes, significant seizures recorded in Niger (214 kg), Burkina Faso (115 kg) and Mali (33.9 kg) since 2021, demonstrate that the Sahelian route remains a relatively important transit area ». « The arrests in West Africa, coupled with record seizures of the drug in the region, also suggest that trafficking, outside the Sahel conflict zone, could fund the armed groups operating there.Several individuals suspected of involvement in cocaine seizures in West African coastal countries, including Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia and Côte d’Ivoire, hold passports from Sahelian countries, » he added.

By Bocar SAKHO / bsakho@lequotidien.sn

  • Translation by Ndey T. SOSSEH



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