Transnational crimes are crimes that have real and potential effect across national borders. International crimes involve any nefarious activity that involves elements that traverse borders in one way or the other. These activities include crimes such as human trafficking, people smuggling, smuggling/trafficking of goods (such as arms trafficking and drug trafficking and illegal animal and plant products and other goods prohibited on environmental grounds (e.g. banned ozone depleting substances), sex slavery, terrorism offences, torture and apart. This post focuses on drug trafficking and its effect on Africa in general and Ghana in particular.
Drug Trafficking is a transnational crime which involves the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws. West Africa in past years has recorded overwhelming volumes of drug trade. According to the UN, last year alone West Africa generated $1.25 billion from drug trafficking alone. It is also disturbing to know that a quarter to two-thirds of the cocaine that is on its way from South America to Europe passes through West African countries with major entry points being countries such as Cape Verde, Benin, Mali, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and Guinea-Bissau.
According to the BBC, West Africa has become a major hub for smuggling South American Cocaine ever since the British and American anti-drug efforts have clamped down on the use of traditional smuggling routes. Previously the main routes were along the Caribbean. Drugs are now transported through the Atlantic Ocean, into the coasts of Africa.
The economic implications to the countries that indulge in Drug trafficking are immense. In poor countries such as Guinea-Bissau, the drug trade makes a mammoth contribution to their national income. According to the Africa Economic Institute, the value of illicit drug smuggling in Guinea-Bissau is almost twice the value of the country’s GDP. However, this value is dwarfed in comparison to the European cities whose value could be as high as $20 billion. As a result of this type of international trade dealing in billions of dollars, criminal activity correspondingly tends to increase which simultaneously rises with violence.
Apart from geographical proximity with respect to transition to the rest of the world, Western African countries are perceived as having a permissive working environment for drug traffickers due to widespread corruption and poor law enforcement structure. Many countries in the region face difficulties in controlling their territory, to administering justice, and are plagued by corruption. Thus, their boarders are porous enough for such illicit drug trade.
In Ghana, it has become fashionable for a section of the youth who want to make quick money. It is important to note that it is not only the poor who are interested in such activities. Indeed, many rich youth are keen on keeping up the lifestyles they have grown up with. Thus this phenomenon is very widespread and pervasive of the very moral fabric of African society. Many do not see what the big deal is. They see it as if KFC and McDonald’s freely sell hamburgers and other unhealthy food that get people obese and lead them to their death-bed legally, they might as well deal cocaine for the quick dollar. Why? Because they can get that Gucci rag or Valentino purse and rock it to impress their friends. And that’s dope!
But is it just dope, or a white dust trail to death?
Authors: Aaron Awinloya Ayamga, Patrick Vetsch, and Ekow Addaquaye.