Reuters reports that an aircraft carrying 700 kilos of cocaine was abandoned on the runway of Freetown’s Lungi Airport in the early hours of Sunday morning. The pilots reportedly fled after abandoning the airplane. Sierra Leonean authorities also found several assault rifles and ammunition on board the abandoned aircraft.
This is not the first time Sierra Leone has emerged as a destination for drugs. A year ago, I wrote a blog post after reading a Miami Herald story about the siezuere in Venezuela of a Sierra Leone–bound airplane carrying 2.5 tons of cocaine. Due to the increased policing of traditional drug routes into Europe, it seems West Africa is increasingly being used by international drug cartels as a conduit for their Europe-bound product. Makes sense to me. Lax border controls, spotty security at air- and seaports, and corrupt officials are vital ingredients for the international drug trade and and all are abundant in West Africa, including Sierra Leone. Major drug seizures have been carried out in Guinea-Bissau and Ghana as well. Yahoo News reports that the aircraft was marked with a fake Red Cross emblem.
Voice of America just reported that several people—among them the chief of airport police, the airport manager, and the control tower operator—have been arrested and are being questioned. Yahoo News also counts “three Colombians, two Mexicans, a Venezuelan national and a US citizen” among those arrested.
Apparently, President Koroma took the weapons found at the scene back to Freetown in his presidential vehicle. I can’t help but wonder, though, who gets to keep the cocaine.
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UPDATE: Agence France Presse reports that 58 people, including many foreign nationals, have been detained in this case. Police investigations are ongoing.
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Posted in Africa, Europe, Immigration, tagged Britain, Cocaine, Creole, Drugs, International News, Sierra Leone, Smuggling, West Africa on June 11, 2007 |
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So . . . I just found out that Sierra Leone is a major conduit for drugs destined for Europe. Who’d have thought? Apparently, Venezuelan authorities seized 2.5 tons of cocaine as it was being loaded unto a private aircraft bound for Sierra Leone!!! Wow!!!
My initial impulse was to once again feel ashamed of my countrymen for letting Sierra Leone become a portal for drug smugglers. In addition to all the other bad stuff Sierra Leone has become known for, I thought, it’ll now be known as a smugglers’ paradise. But the more I thought about this, the less ashamed I felt.
You see, I’m curious about how the drugs were going to get from Sierra Leone to Europe. After all, when I was in Sierra Leone last September, I got the impression that it’s incredibly difficult for Sierra Leoneans to get visas to enter any European country. Hell, I live in the U.S. and I get a hard time from the European consulates every time I travel to Europe! When I was in Sierra Leone, I saw first hand how hard it is for Sierra Leonenas to travel abroad. On my recent trip, I noticed that the majority of people on the flight to Freetown were Sierra Leoneans going home for holidays, funerals, weddings, etc. However, on the flight back to London, the majority of passengers were White!
So my question is, who exactly was going to transport all that blow to Europe. If Sierra Leoneans can’t even get visas to leave their country, I seriously doubt they’re the ones who are bringing drugs into Europe. I mean, most Africans have a hard enough time smuggling themselves into Europe, let alone illicit drugs.
If you were going to enlist people to smuggle massive amounts of illicit drugs into Europe, you’d be stupid to ask Sierra Leoneans to do it. They’d never even get a visa. It would be a much better idea to have European “tourists” do it. After all, they have an easier time getting out of Sierra Leone than Sierra Leoneans themselves.
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