Breaking Bad in West Africa

by ptinti


Long a transit point for the trafficking of narcotics, West Africa has quickly become a key hub for the production of methamphetamine destined for Asia. 2013 saw a string of high-profile busts in Nigeria, and officials throughout the region are concerned that meth labs are proliferating across West Africa.

BAMAKO, Mali — I recently authored a report for The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime titled, “Illicit Trafficking and Instability in Mali: Past, Present and Future.” Here is the thrust of the piece, which draws on fieldwork and dozens of interviews with government officials, diplomats, alleged traffickers, and interlocutors throughout the country:

…focusing on quantities misplaces the analytical imperative as it pertains to peace and security in Mali. While figures would be useful for monitoring trends, the impact of organized crime and illicit trafficking on Mali depends not on the quantity of product, but rather the manner in which trafficking affects more nebulous concepts, such as good governance and state capacity. For these reasons, a more qualitative approach to analysis is necessary.

If the current post-conflict phase is not to relapse into yet another iteration of instability in northern Mali, then the international community must gain a better understanding of the illicit economy. It is only by engaging the impact of organized crime and illicit trafficking in Mali that outsiders can begin to play a constructive role in creating an environment where democratic governance, rule of law, and citizen security can take root and…

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