News Briefing-Week of 21st of May

  • This year the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has several opportunities to revisit, rethink and reinvigorate the fight against organised crime in the region. The organisation is poised to significantly boost its role as a regional framework for policy development and action on serious issues, among which various forms of illicit trafficking, including of drugs, weapons, humans, and counterfeit medicines.
  • Leaders of the notorious Mexican Mafia “gang of gangs” were charged on May 23 with allegedly running a government-like operation to control drug trafficking from inside Los Angeles County jails.
  • The anti-narcotics division of Colombia’s army on May 21 dismantled a laboratory with underground tunnels reportedly designed to produce cocaine hydrochloride in a rural village in the municipality of Tumaco in the south-western department of Nariño.
  • The presence and impact of organised drug crime pose an increasing threat in East Africa. Interviews with local journalists; a review of official seizure data (even if limited); and a systematic monitoring of media coverage of drug-related incidents in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda from 2008 to 2017 (as part of the incident monitoring work of the ENACT project) reveal significant growth in the presence of heroin and cocaine over time. As this threat evolves, media reporting is a key and necessary source of public information. Yet several challenges limit the quantity and quality of media coverage of the topic (capacity and resource constraints of major media houses, journalists’ fears of reprisal…).
  • On 23 May Costa Rican authorities arrested 22 alleged members of a transport group headed by former members of the country’s coast guard and police, highlighting a trend of deepening security force corruption in the Central American nation fuelled by its expanding role as a drug transhipment point.
  • As Alvaro Uribe was making his rise to the Colombian presidency more than two decades ago, U.S. officials were repeatedly told that the up-and-coming politician had ties to the nation’s drug cartels, according to newly declassified State Department cables. The cables were obtained and released on 25 May by the National Security Archive, a non-profit group, as Uribe’s handpicked candidate, Ivan Duque, was the frontrunner in polls to win the presidential election.