by Chidi Okoye
Venezuela arrested a group of suspected cocaine traffickers, among them four Nigerians, in what the Latin American country claims is further illustration of the importance of drug smuggling routes from South America to West Africa, and then onto Europe.
Venezuela’s National Guard and anti-narcotics police reported detaining the six suspects during two separate operations, according to Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional. The detainees were found smuggling cocaine on public transport, travelling from the city of Maturin to the eastern state of Delta Amacuro. This region is well known as a departure point for illegal flights heading across the Atlantic, as well as ships.
Last year Venezuela signed an accord with Nigeria, agreeing to cooperate in the fight against drug trafficking.
Nigeria is seen as an important transhipment hub for both cocaine and methamphetamine. In a troubling sign of the growth of the South America-Nigeria connection, between 2011 and 2012 Nigerian officials reported discovering two methamphetamine production laboratories inside the country, as well as arresting several Bolivian nationals in connection to one lab.
By some estimates, 13 percent of global cocaine flows now move through West Africa.