ISS: Chad’s illegal drug trade contributes to regional insecurity

Written by ISSAfrica
25/08/2020 – On 24 July, a court in Chad sentenced ten people including high-ranking security and intelligence officials as part of a transnational tramadol trafficking cabal. Tramadol is a synthetic opiate and anti-inflammatory medication.

Although not a first, this case is unprecedented in its scope and involvement of senior officials. In January 2020, a shipment of 246 boxes (about 47kg) of tramadol, worth XAF12.3 billion (around €18.8 million), coming from India via Douala, Cameroon, and bound for Libya, was seized by Chadian customs.

Chad is positioned south of Libya, on the eastern edge of the Sahel and Lake Chad, west of Sudan and north of the Central African Republic (CAR). There’s latent conflict in the CAR, Boko Haram in the west, intensifying community conflicts on the border with Sudan and various armed gangs, and a volatile situation in southern Libya.

This complexly insecure environment makes it a lucrative market for contraband. Apart from tramadol, other smuggling activities involve arms, other types of drugs (particularly hashish), stolen vehicles and humans.

Even with prominent members of the network behind bars, fighting drug trafficking will be long and arduous.

Considering possible connections between trafficking and insecurity in the country and the neighbourhood, trafficking must be curbed to prevent entrepreneurs of violence and insecurity (armed gangs, highway robbers, highway criminals and violent extremist groups) in Chad from creating destabilising interdependencies.

With one of the trafficking routes into Chad, the Cotonou road, now under surveillance, traffickers have changed routes and are increasing the scale of their operations. The corridor from northern Chad to Libya also sees other types of insecurity and illicit activities including armed gangs, organised crime and smuggling, despite a state security presence. This could become an alternative route for trafficking into and from Chad. It’s a huge desert area that’s impossible to completely control and is well known to traffickers.

Due to its proximity to Libya, northern Chad has suffered the full impact of the Libyan conflict for almost a decade. The conflict in Libya has made it a corridor for various types of trafficking. This area also often escapes effective state control.

Even before the Libyan civil war, northern Chad had been the object of Chad-Libyan contestation (1978-1987). The discovery of gold deposits there has accentuated conflict and insecurity dynamics by attracting actors from different backgrounds, including armed gangs eager to profit from the illicit exploitation and trafficking of this resource.

In other contexts, entrepreneurs of insecurity and violence take advantage of illicit activities to strengthen logistical, operational and financial bases and enhance their resilience to state responses. In 2017, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime also warned of the extent of tramadol trafficking in the Sahel and its use by non-state armed groups.

In July 2019, two senior officials of Chad’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs were arrested for tramadol trafficking from India via Cotonou, Benin. Beninese authorities apprehended the escort with the cargo. The Chadian senior officials involved tried to have him released on the pretext that the cargo was destined for the Chadian national army. The senior officials were tried and imprisoned in Chad and the escort in Benin.

Chad is cited as one of the most corrupt countries in Africa.

A corollary to trafficking is often corruption of administrative authorities. Indeed the huge sums of money involved deepen mistrust in Chad, which is cited as one of the most corrupt countries in Africa. The tramadol trial has set a precedent, but much remains to be done to clean up the system once and for all.

It is important to continue the work to restore the integrity of the security and intelligence environment, from agents using their positions to organise the trafficking, to strengthen the capacity of the judiciary to better track down and try traffickers.

The National Agency for Financial Investigation (ANIF) and the Task Force on Money Laundering in Central Africa (GABAC) should also be asked to track systems through which money gained from the illicit drug trade is being laundered in Chad’s economy and regionally. Asset forfeiture of those involved in trafficking could be effective in this regard.

Finally, the international scope of trafficking raises the need for transnational cooperation involving not only Chad’s neighbours (Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, Libya, Sudan and the CAR), but also the countries that serve as corridors for this trafficking, particularly Benin, to curb it. An intergovernmental institution such as Interpol, but also existing regional mechanisms such as ANIF and GABAC, should be reinforced to facilitate this cooperation.

Written by Remadji Hoinathy, Senior Researcher, ISS Regional Office for West Africa, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin. Republished with permission from ISS Africa. The original article can be found here.

 
Sahel-Elite (Bamako-Mali)

Opération Barkhane: Actualités des opérations

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Niger/Libye: Frontière nigéro – libyenne : naissance hier d’un groupe politico-militaire (AÏR Info)

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Le baptême de ce nouveau front s’est fait à travers un dur réquisitoire de la gouvernance actuelle en cours au Niger.
Nous ignorons pour l’instant le chef-fondateur et le programme de ce mouvement.

AÏR INFO

Sahel-Elite (Bamako-Mali) 

‘Local politics, porous borders benefit Boko Haram’

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Niger : l’état d’urgence étendu à l’ensemble de la région de Tillabéry après l’attentat meurtrier de Kouré

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Mali/Niger : UN closes two Malian refugee camps in Niger, citing security fears

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« The closure of the camps in December 2019 was a joint decision (by the UN refugee agency and the government of Niger) and was accelerated last year with the deterioration of the security situation, » Benoit Moreno, a UNHCR official in the capital Niamey, told AFP. Continuer à lire … « Mali/Niger : UN closes two Malian refugee camps in Niger, citing security fears »

Turkey’s military pact with Niger securing foothold in neighbouring Libya – The New Khalij

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met with President of Niger Mahamadou in Niger on July 21st, when the pair signed a military agreement and discussed the effects of the ongoing war in Libya on their respective countries. Continuer à lire … « Turkey’s military pact with Niger securing foothold in neighbouring Libya – The New Khalij »

Niger : réouverture des frontières aériennes à partir du 1er août prochain

18/07/2020 – Le Niger a décidé vendredi en conseil des ministres de rouvrir ses frontières aériennes à partir du 1er août prochain, grâce à « l’évolution favorable » de la pandémie de COVID-19 sur son territoire, a-t-on appris de source officielle à Niamey. »L’évolution de la pandémie de COVID-19 est favorable et se caractérise par un coefficient de transmissibilité (Ro) de 0,226″, a précisé le gouvernement dans un communiqué cité par la télévision nationale vendredi soir. Continuer à lire … « Niger : réouverture des frontières aériennes à partir du 1er août prochain »

Niger receives Mi-171Sh helicopters

13/07/2020 – Niger has apparently taken delivery of two armed Mi-171Sh helicopters after ordering the aircraft for some $47 million. Continuer à lire … « Niger receives Mi-171Sh helicopters »

Niger : démantèlement d’un réseau de trafic d’armes

13/07/2020 – La brigade de la Gendarmerie nationale de Guidan-Roumdji, dans la région nigérienne de Maradi (centre-sud), proche de la frontière avec le Nigeria, vient de démanteler un réseau de trafic d’armes avec la saisie d’une vingtaine d’armes de guerre et de munitions, ainsi que l’arrestation de deux suspects, a rapporté samedi la télévision publique nigérienne. Continuer à lire … « Niger : démantèlement d’un réseau de trafic d’armes »