Guinea-Bissau is the world`s fifth poorest country. The small West African State has no prisons and very few police. The available police officers for this failed state have no handcuffs, no radios, no phones, few cars, and no petrol. Additionally, the country has a single rusty ship that patrols a coastline of 350Km on Africa`s Atlantic coast. The Guinea-Bissau government also tasks the same rusty old vessel with the duty of monitoring activity on an archipelago of 82 islands part of Guinea Bissau. Additionally, Guinea`s borders are unmanned. The state’s air space furthermore is un-patrolled.
Why Guinea-Bissau is a Target
Due to these weaknesses, South American and African organized crime groups target this failed West African Country for illegal activity. Traffickers have made the country a major stopping-off point for cocaine grown in South America and smuggled into Europe. A report revealed that almost 30 tonnes of cocaine enter and leave Guinea-Bissau each year due to the traffickers.
Some of Guinea-Bissau`s politicians and the armed forces are deeply involved in the drug trade. This involvement only makes things even easier for traffickers to smuggle their products. Drug traffickers get inside the country pay for services they need from the army or the government and people. After drug lords pay off everyone involved he receives a safe storage space for drugs before transportation. Ships or trucks and even sometimes planes then carry the drugs out of Guinea-Bissau into Europe to Portugal or Spain.
The U.S and UN Involvement
The illegal trade, however, seems to be declining due to the involvement of the United States and the UN counter-narcotic policies. Another factor that has furthered the decline of this trade is the West African Coast initiative. The initiative comprised of the regional bloc ECOWAS, UN agencies, and Interpol has greatly assisted the West African country in combating the drug trade, drug use, and even organized crime.
The two Ringleaders Captured
Through the West African Coast initiative on Thursday, April 2nd, 2020, authorities captured two suspected ringleaders and sentenced them to record jail terms in prison due to trafficking. The two suspects identified as Colombian Ricardo Ariza Monje, known as “Ramon,” and Braima Seidi Ba the authorities accused of trafficking almost two tonnes of cocaine into Guinea-Bissau. Upon the capture of Braima Seidi authorities noted that he had a joint Guinea-Bissau and Portuguese nationality.
Guinea-Bissau sentences the Captured
A court in Guinea-Bissau handed the two ringleaders a record prison sentence of 16 years in prison each. Very few people attended the court hearing in the capital Bissau due to travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Apart from the two ringleaders captured authorities also apprehended 12 other suspects. The authorities involved also accused the twelve of bringing drugs into the poor West African country, a country considered a transit hub for narcotics from Latin America to Europe. The twelve defendants from different countries like Colombia, Mexico, and Mali also had their day in Court. A judge in Guinea-Bissau handed the other individuals found guilty, 4 years and 14 years jail terms.