Drugs in somewhat unlikely places

Caspian, west Africa, and Balkans, where drugs move through

Not that anybody should be surprised at the inroads drugs have made in our globalized world.

In the town of Astra, Azerbaijan, where it’s just across the border from Iran, the town is known as the Tijuana of the Caspian.

Iranians line up daily to cross the Astara River to buy and sell jeans, chickens, bras, laptops—and often sex and schnapps and heroin.

In Albania, the problems lies with its location as a popular transient country for all kinds of illegal substances.  The prevalence of transient drugs have turned the country into one that also consumes.

Albania lies on the Balkans trafficking route used by organised crime gangs to smuggle drugs, arms and people into Europe from the Far East, Africa and the Middle East.  Its health ministry says there are now between 40,000 and 60,000 addicts in the country of 3.1 million inhabitants, up from an estimated 5,000 in 1995.

Albania’s demographic and socio-economic situation have since altered dramatically, with a tide of people moving from rural areas to cities, and unemployment rising. Struggling with the demands of capitalism, many farmers who remained on their land began producing cannabis as a new source of income

And in Guinea-Bissau, the effect of transient drugs are even more devastating.  In March 2009, both its president, and its head of state were assassinated within 9 hours of each other. Many suspected both deaths connected to rampant drug trafficking in the country.

Since 2007, Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony and one of the poorest nations in the world, has become the new hub for cocaine trafficking. The drug is shipped from Venezuela, Colombia, and Brazil to West Africa en route to Europe.

Many looked upon Lebanese, and more specifically, Hezbollah presence in the country as alarming.

According to reports from Interpol and United Nations agencies, cocaine traded through West Africa accounts for a considerable portion of the income of Hezbollah. These reports say Hezbollah uses the Lebanese Shiite expatriate population in South America and West Africa to guarantee an efficient connection between the two continents.

Argentina also admitted involvement in the growing drug trade.

On March 12, ten days after Vieira was killed, the Argentine government declared that the Consulate of Guinea-Bissau in Buenos Aires was involved in criminal activities related to money laundering, drug trafficking, and illegal arms trade.

Comments on this entry are closed.