DEA charges Guinea-Bissau General with narco-terrorism

Not unlike Mexico, West Africa is an anarchic region thanks mainly to cocaine trafficking.  This is particularly true in Guinea-Bissau, which has been called Africa’s first narco-state. This week the United States Drug Enforcement Agency told the world that they are charging Antonio Indjai, the head of Guinea-Bissau’s Armed Forces, of conspiring to do business with Colombian paramilitary group FARC. Specifically they are charging him with storing FARC-owned cocaine, planning to give FARC weapons in return and intending to sell the cocaine in the US.

The DEA says that a number of Indjai’s associates have been arrested and transferred from West Africa to a prison in America. However, being an important part of Guinea-Bissau’s government, getting hold of Indjai will be much harder. He has been a key player in the country’s political chaos, having been a part of the 2010 coup d’etat. When protests erupted following the coup, Indjai threatened to kill the Prime Minister (who had been placed under house arrest) unless the protests stopped. He was also involved in a coup in April 2012, two weeks before democratic elections.

The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia, or FARC, are a group which have been fighting the Colombian government for almost 50 years. Their stated aim is to create a Marxist state in Colombia, and the US has branded them a terrorist organisation. They are famous for selling cocaine in return for weapons, although they have recently claimed that they are “too serious” to traffic cocaine.

Cocaine in West Africa is usually en route to be sold and consumed in Europe (cocaine destined for America tends to go through Mexico), so it is strange that the DEA is charging him with conspiring to import cocaine into the US. But DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart has said, “Today’s indictment reflects DEA’s commitment to securing our nation and protecting our citizens. These charges reveal how Indjai's sprawling drug and terror regime threatened the national security not only of his own country, but of countries across the globe.”

Attorney Preet Bharara added, "From his position atop the Guinea-Bissau military, Antonio Indjai conspired to use his power and authority to be a middleman and his country to be a way station”.