In light of today’s stunning assassination news out of Guinea-Bissau, it’s worth revisiting this fine Washington Post investigation from last August. The West African nation has apparently become a key transshipment point for Colombian cocaine traffickers, en route to major European markets:
[Guinea-Bissau] is best known for its cashews and mangoes, but its main attractions for the cartels are its weak government and coastal waters dotted with scores of uninhabited islands.
Officials said the drug traffickers don’t export directly to Europe because European navies and air forces would detect large shipments. So they send ships and planes loaded with cocaine to West Africa. Some is unloaded at abandoned airstrips in the islands off Guinea-Bissau; more is dropped at sea and picked up by small boats.
The cocaine is then broken up into still smaller loads and sent on to Europe in light aircraft or by human mules — in 2006, Dutch police discovered on a single flight to Amsterdam 32 people traveling from Guinea-Bissau with hidden cocaine.
So much cocaine is moving through Guinea-Bissau that plastic-wrapped bricks of it have washed ashore, where officials said confused villagers tried using the unfamiliar substance to fertilize their crops or paint their walls.