77 Police Officers, One Car

I recently listened to yet another great BBC radio documentary. Africa’s Cocaine Coast tells a story I hadn’t heard before about drug trafficking in Africa:

Ranked by the United Nations as the fifth poorest country in the world, Guinea-Bissau is awash with cocaine…

Guinea-Bissau’s coastline, dotted with uninhabited islands, provides a virtually open border for drugs traffickers, who use the country as a warehouse and distribution point.

Reporter Grant Ferrett discovers hopelessly ill-equipped police struggling to tackle the problem and so far receiving very little help from the rich western governments whose countries provide the market for the drugs.

‘Hopelessly ill-equipped’ is an understatement. The police force in charge of preventing the drug trade has 77 officers, no computers, no radios, no navy and exactly one car. There’s no rule of law in the country, and even if they do catch a dealer, there are no jails to incarcerate them.

I feel dumb saying this, but I had no idea that Europe’s cocaine came from Central and South America. I guess I’d just never thought about it. Guinea-Bissau functions as a convenient way-station between Latin America and Western Europe.

The documentary also points out that the demand for cocaine in Europe is estimated at a ton a day. If, like me, you’re wondering what a ton of cocaine looks like, here’s some old Irish dude with a ton of flour.

1 comment

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: