An agency of the EU

Transatlantic drug trafficking – via Africa

Alert - No3 - 19 January 2016

José Luengo-Cabrera, Anouk Moser

Download document

Over the last decade, the West African region has become an increasingly important gateway for the smuggling of Latin American illicit drugs (mainly cocaine) to the European consumer market. Spurred by growing transatlantic links between traffickers controlling opaque supply chains and operating in poor governing environments, the emergence of a narcotics trade network along the southern Atlantic ‘corridor’ has increasingly become a security hazard for the EU.

With growing European demand for high-value drugs, the activities of smugglers risk expanding in West Africa, where law-enforcement remains weak. This has significant implications for EU security policies, particularly as the transatlantic drug trade is an important source of revenue for organised crime and terrorist activities south of the Mediterranean. Although EU-led counter-narcotics programmes have taken root, they remain underfunded and limited to trans-regional interdiction operations. Without efforts tailored to dismantling localised smuggling networks, the political economy of the transatlantic drug trade will remain largely unscathed.