Cocaine trafficking in West and Central Africa has increased by $100 million annually since 2009, the United Nations announced today. The Associated Press reported that drug cartels are using West and Central Africa as shortcuts when selling drugs to Europe.
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The United Nations had previously said that drug trafficking generated $800 million annually in the area, but officials now put that number closer to $900 million. Yuri Fedotov, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said that drug cartels are taking advantage of "lack of border controls, weak law enforcement, and endemic corruption in West Africa to reach Europe," according to the AP. And the trade appears to have caused locals to get hooked as well. Fedotov told the AP that there are now 2.5 million illegal drug users in the region.
Last June, the United Nations told BBC News that drug trading in West Africa has become increasingly more sophisticated. A decade ago, authorities in West Africa had seized 100 kilos of cocaine, but by 2009 the amount seized reached 6,500 kilos, according to the Guardian.
"Drug money is perverting the weak economies in the region," a United Nations official told GlobalPost in 2009.