Alleged FARC Scheme Swapped Cocaine for West African Arms

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An international police operation has dismantled a network in which Colombian rebel group the FARC allegedly attempted to exchange cocaine for weapons from the West African nation of Guinea-Bissau.

The investigation, involving US, Colombian, Portuguese, and Guinea-Bissau authorities, lasted over a year, reported EFE. Colombian police arrested two men in Bogota who are accused of serving as as the FARC’s intermediaries for the West Africa-based weapons suppliers. 

On the Guinean side, US agents detained five men involved in the scheme off the coast of West Africa, including three retired officials from the Guinean Navy, and took them to New York to stand trial, reported the AFP.

According to El Espectador, the arms deal negotiated by FARC intermediaries and the retired African officials may have included surface-to-air missiles for the rebels.

InSight Crime Analysis

Colombian drug traffickers have long exploited the endemic corruption and institutional weakness that plagues Guinea-Bissau, a very poor country that struggles even to pay its state employees. West Africa serves as an important transit point for South American cocaine on its way to the European market, although there are some indications that the amount of cocaine moving through West Africa may be falling.

This is the second report within a week of FARC attempts to exchange cocaine for weapons from Africa. In March, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) uncovered an alleged plot by the FARC to provide a shipment of cocaine to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in exchange for arms acquired in Libya.

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