THIS ARTICLE COMES COURTESY OF FOREIGN POLICY JOURNAL;
The anti-narcotics department at the Lagos, Nigeria international airport is not fancy. There is a waiting room where perpetrators sit in angst; there is a small backroom with dusty equipment. And then there is the stash room, where all the confiscated goods are kept. And you wouldn’t believe the smuggling tactics tried: Inside flip flops, under clothing, and yes of course, ingesting packets of the stuff that eventually come out the other end… to sell. That’s what they found today, when authorities caught a politician who had swallowed about 4.5 pounds of cocaine before boarding a flight. What did he want the money for? To fund his election campaign.
Think of cocaine, you probably don’t think of Nigeria. But the country and the drug have a long and colorful history. Nigerian politicians have a long and infamous history of getting caught up in the drug trade. General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who was president in the late 1980s, was rumored to have run (or at least profitted from) a drug ring. The corruption begot by his successor, Sani Abacha, didn’t help stop trafficking, either. But about two years ago, Nigeria’s anti-nacotics agency started to get a bit more serious — and a bit better equipped. When I toured the airport’s narcotics facilities in 2007, they had just gotten a big upgrade from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which sent fancy new equipment to detect the stuff. The reason was simple: as Mexico, the United States, and Colombia have cracked down on traditionally trafficking routes, Africa has emerged as the new, lawless fronteir of drug trafficking.
Clearly, there’s much more that needs doing than just x-rays machines. It can’t bode well when politicians are not the ones stopping, but the ones caught with a bellyfull of cocaine.