Guinea-Bissau coup: Prime minister arrested for helping drug trade, military says

Guinea-Bissau troops have arrested the prime minister and acting president in an apparent coup, the Associated Press reports. A military spokesman told the AP that Prime Minister Gomes Junior was arrested for helping send cocaine to Europe.


A March 16 file photo of Guinea-Bissau Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior, who was arrested Friday. (Gabriela Barnuevo/AP)

According to the AP, drug traffickers use several uninhabited islands of Guinea-Bissau to land planes loaded with drugs, parcel out the drugs, and then send them out to sale in Europe.

The Globe and Mail’s Geoffrey York reports that the coup in Guinea-Bissau is only the latest sign of how West Africa has been destabilized by drug trafficking.

Mali, another West Africa state, was recently rocked by a coup because of a destabilizing rebellion in the north. York reports that drug money may have helped fuel the rebellion.

Analysts told the AP that in Guinea-Bissau, traffickers have bought off members of the government and military, turning the country into a “narcostate.”

A 2008 United Nations report wrote that Guinea-Bissau is “prized by drug traffickers for its unguarded coastline... saddled with high-level corruption and a near-total absence of the rule of law, allowing cocaine gangs to operate with impunity.”

The U.N. estimates that 2,200 pounds of cocaine are flown into the country every night, according to the Globe and Mail. More cocaine arrives by sea.

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