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Saturday, September 22, 2007

West Africa builds Plan to stop drug smuggling

Tue 11 Sep 2007, 16:50 GMT
By Alistair Thomson

DAKAR, Sept 11 (Reuters) - West Africa is drawing up a plan to fight drug trafficking, in particular of Latin American cocaine and Asian heroin being smuggled to lucrative markets in Europe, a regional crime fighter said on Tuesday.

Abdullahi Shehu, who heads West Africa's programme against money laundering, received an additional mandate last month from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to fight drugs cartels, whose grip on the region appears to be growing.

"We don't want to reinvent the wheel, but we want to make a practical difference within the shortest time," Shehu said during a meeting in Senegal where experts were drawing up the plan to submit to leaders of the 15 ECOWAS members in December.

"They want something long-term, but they are also concerned about the short term," Shehu told reporters. "This will consist of a plan for one year ... reducing the traffic of cocaine in particular into the region, while other goals are ongoing."

Record drug seizures in recent months have exposed networks using West Africa's poorly policed shorelines and vast empty deserts to smuggle hard drugs into Europe.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

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