Newsbriefing – Week of 2 September

Bolivian security forces seized a Brazilian-registered helicopter carrying almost 300 kilos of drugs near the border with Peru. Officials say cocaine processing is increasingly being fractionned in different countries. They are at least two air bridges that have been established between Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, and 38 small clandestine planes used for narcotrafficking were seized between 2017-2018 in Bolivia alone.

New study suggests Africa faces a substantial increase in illegal drug use, fuelled by organised crime and deficient drug policies. It is anticipated that by 2050 there will be an additional 14 million Africans using illegal drugs, with a total of 24 million users in sub-Saharan Africa. Cocaine users are expected to more than double, reaching 13 million in 2050. This trend risks another spike in HIV and the growing significance of Africa as a hub for illicit flows.

Guatemala declared the state of emergency after the killings of three soldiers by suspected drug traffickers. Authorities will send more military and police, install a curfew, prohibit demonstrations and facilitate detentions in a crackdown against organised crime. This coincides with the government termination of the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.

Guinea-Bissau seized 1.8 tonnes of cocaine hidden in flour bags aboard a vessel. This is the biggest drug bust in the country’s history. The drug came from Colombia and was destined to Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb. Since a crackdown on corruption in 2012, cocaine trafficking in Guinea-Bissau was thought to be in decline.

British authorities seized 1.3 tonnes of heroin aboard a ship in the port of Felixstowe, UK. The drug is said to have a value of 130 million euros. The container was heading towards the Netherlands, where four suspects were arrested. In August, 400 kilos of heroin had been seized on a vessel in Felixstowe.

Countries in eastern Africa are struggling with the proliferation and trafficking of illicit arms from conflict-ridden areas such as Yemen. These arms are used by organised crimes groups, terrorist groups, poachers and pirates. There are 100 million illicit firearms in circulation in Africa and the black market for small arms stands at one billion dollars.