Nancy Brune – Americas Quarterly, 11/09/2011
The vicious drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico regularly make headlines, but there has been remarkably less public attention to the growing role of Brazil—and Brazilian organized crime —as a major player in the global trade in illicit narcotics.
Expanding links between Brazilian criminal groups and their counterparts in West Africa, easy access to European ports and rampant corruption have created an ideal jumping-off place for Latin American contraband destined for Europe and Asia and fuel Brazil’s role as a bridge for drug trafficking.
Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea- Bissau, Nigeria, and South Africa are now top transshipment points for Latin American drugs bound for Europe and beyond. This development seems to have overtaken the close connection with Russia, which in the 1990s was the main link for Colombian cocaine.1 Much of the traffic has gone by sea, but law enforcement authorities note an increasing use of air shipments. Between 30 and 100 tons of Latin American cocaine annually are smuggled north to Europe along African air routes.2