Transnational organized crime continues to affect vulnerable West African countries, says new UNODC reportListen /
"Transnational organized crime is clearly a serious threat to West Africa" according to a report released in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire on Monday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The report entitled Transnational Organized Crime in West Africa: a Threat Assessment, analyses the dynamics of key crime markets, including drugs, arms and human trafficking as well as piracy.
Drug trafficking has taken an increasing hold in the region in the past years, with profits from this illicit trade often surpassing national security budgets.
Cocaine trafficking is the most lucrative criminal activity in the region reaching over $800 million.
Pierre Lapaque, UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa says "The numbers in this report are from 2008 and refer to 18 tons of cocaine" per year.
He believes that in the past couple of years there has been a significant increase in the volume of cocaine coming into West Africa, and that actual figures are at about 30 tons.
And this generates a local profit of about $800 to $900 million , half of which is laundered in the sub region."
Cocaine is not the only illicit drug affecting the region, however.
One worrying development is the emergence of methamphetamine production and related trafficking.
Two methamphetamine labs were detected in Nigeria in 2011-2012, and some 3,000 methamphetamine couriers travelled from West Africa to East Asia in 2010, carrying drugs worth some US$360 million.
Donn Bobb, United Nations.