Venezuela and Nigeria signed an anti-drug treaty last year

Venezuela arrested a group of suspected cocaine traffickers, among them four Nigerians, further illustration of the importance of drug smuggling routes from South America to Western Africa, and then onto Europe.

Venezuela’s National Guard and anti-narcotics police reported detaining the six suspects during two separate operations, according to Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional. The detainees were found smuggling cocaine on public transport, traveling from the city of Maturin to the eastern state of Delta Amacuro. This region is well known as a departure point for illegal flights heading across the Atlantic, as well as ships.

Venezuela reported seizing 45 tons of illicit narcotics in 2012, including some 27 tons of cocaine. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

US officials have said that Colombian and Venezuelan drug traffickers are increasingly reliant on smuggling routes that move drug shipments to Europe via West Africa. In 2010, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Andean Regional Director, Jay Bergman, said that the majority of drug flights that land in West Africa depart from Venezuela. In an apparent acknowledgement of the problem, last year Venezuela signed an accord with Nigeria, agreeing to cooperate in the fight against drug trafficking. 

Nigeria, West Africa’s largest country, is an important transhipment hub for both cocaine and methamphetamine. One indication of the increased involvement of South American criminal organizations in trafficking narcotics to Nigeria came last year, when Argentine customs agents discovered a 530 kilogram cocaine shipment on a cargo plane bound for Nigeria. In another troubling sign of the growth of the South America-Nigeria connection, between 2011 and 2012 Nigerian officials reported discovering two methamphetamine production laboratories inside the country, as well as arresting several Bolivian nationals in connection to one lab.

Other countries in South America have also reported increased evidence of drug trafficking ties with parts of Africa. Last year Brazil made several large arrests involving traffickers attempting to smuggle cocaine from Sao Paulo to Angola

By some estimates, 13 percent of global cocaine flows now move through West Africa

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

Homicides in Guatemala: Introduction, Methodology, and Major Findings

When violence surged in early 2015 in Guatemala, then-President Otto Pérez Molina knew how to handle the situation: Blame the street gangs. 

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...