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PostSubject: Mali war disrupts cocaine supply to Europe   Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:32 pm



France's surprise intervention in northern Mali against Islamist fighters involved in lucrative drug-running has disrupted cocaine supply to Europe but smugglers are already finding new routes, analysts said.

The former colonial power sent its jets and troops exactly two months ago to eliminate Al-Qaeda-linked groups that had been controlling northern Mali for nine months and were threatening to move south towards the capital.

The jihadist network in Mali's north has funded itself by taking foreign hostages but also by levying a tax on smugglers running drugs from Latin America to feed Europe's ever-growing market.

Poverty and the lack of government presence in the vast desert expanse has provided an ideal ground for smugglers.

Typically, the drugs are shipped to the Gulf of Guinea or flown in directly from Venezuela, for example, into Mauritania or Mali, where they are stored and eventually taken overland to the Mediterranean's southern shores.

The route is known as "Highway 10", in reference to the 10th parallel, a line of latitude which cuts through Colombia and Venezuela at one end, Guinea and Nigeria at the other and just misses Mali.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime said in a recent report that around 10 percent of the 172 tonnes of pure cocaine that entered Europe in 2010 transited through West Africa.

The military intervention in Mali has "totally disrupted the trafficking of drugs, weapons and migrants in the region, smashing up all the networks transiting through northern Mali," French researcher Mathieu Guidere said.

Guidere, a specialist of Islam and of the year-old crisis in northern Mali, said smugglers have been paying a fee worth around 10 percent of their cargo's value to groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

more here: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/africa/Mali-war-disrupts-cocaine-supply-to-Europe/-/1066/1716878/-/ym3mr2/-/index.html

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