Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Press Releases

Nigerian Gangs Spread to Afghanistan in Heroin Trade
A series of recent conversations confirm what a recent UN report (available here) touched on: The growing reach of Nigerian and other sub-Saharan drug trafficking gangs into the heroin trade, particularly the heroin trade in Afghanistan.

While Nigerian gangs have long been invovled in transshipping cocaine and heroin from Latin America to Europe and the United States, and expansion into Afghanistan signals a major expansion of their reach and capabilities. It also signals a new danger for the influx of massive amounts of cash into a region where disaffected armed groups are growing in power and influence while corrupt, incompetent governments continue to crumble and breed contempt. It also intersects with a region of the world where Salafist groups are expanding their appeal, reach, and support for armed conflict.

These groups are not necessarily related, but the history of weak and failing states intersecting with organized crime and terrorist networks makes it reasonable to assume the relationships can and will exist when conditions make such tactical alliances mutually beneficial. And, without intersecting directly, the benefits of chaos and the flow of weapons into the region will not be lost on the Salafists.

This is particularly true in northern tier, from Mali, where the GSPC already maintains training camps, to Sudan, where genocide continues.

The Nigerian gangs are particularly difficult to combat for several reasons: They enjoy official protection at high levels; the operate in languages and dialects that make electronic intercepts of their conversations virtually useless; they rely on kinship networks, making them extremely difficult to penetrate; and they are extremely ruthless, and thus instill a high level of fear in those who know of their activities.

While lip service is now paid to "transnational threats" and nonstate actors, these issues remain largely out of focus of policymakers. When they are focused on, it is often as discreet phenomenas: drug trafficking; weapons trafficking; terrorism, rather than viewing the web as an interconnected web. The Nigerian and other African gangs show just how far these connections are spreading.
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