Merchant of Death
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Blood from Stones

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Hammering the Drug-Terror Nexus in Africa
It has been an unprecedented week of drug busts and designations designed to slow the criminal-terrorist nexus in Africa, mostly through cocaine supplied by the FARC in Colombia through air shipments originating in Venezuela.

We have, in the past day, seen a major cocaine ring linked to the FARC in Liberia dismantled, the son of (now dead) dictator Lansana Conte designated a drug kingpin in Guinea (Conakry), and the designation of a major drug kingpin in Mozambique.

As noted by Main Justice, linked above and including a link to the indictment, the son of Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wore a wire for the DEA while pretending to accept bribes for a shipment worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Fombah Tea Sirleaf, the son or step son of the president, is the head of Liberia's National Security Agency, and participated in "Operation Relentless."

According to the indictment unsealed yesterday, a Nigerian was coordinating two shipments (one of 4,000 kilos and one of 1,500 kilos) on two different aircraft departing from Venezuela. A Colombian, a Ghanaian and a Russian all played roles. The shipment originated with the FARC in Colombia.

That is about as good as summary as one could want of the current state of alliances in the Latin American-West African drug nexus. The FARC to its state sponsor in Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, to the long-standing Nigerian network in West Africa, through a weak and highly corruptible state (Liberia). The traffickers must have been shocked to find an official in Liberia who actually did not take a bribe. Heroes are few and far between in the war on drug corruption, but there were some in this battle.

West Africa is an increasingly important life line for the FARC, Chávez and their allies. Without sanctuary in Venezuela and the ability to move and sell large loads in relatively unguarded regions of the world, the FARC would be a spent force. But the cash influxes allow the terrorist group of kidnappers and thugs, to continue to function and inflict pain not just in Colombia but across the region.

At the same time, Treasury's OFAC division has been ratcheting up it designations in Africa to freeze some of the drug proceeds. Ousmane Conte, the son of Lansana Conte, is already in jail and has admitted to significant drug trafficking, now he assets in the U.S. can be frozen.

Similarly, Mozambican heroin kingpin Mohamed Bachir Suleman, owner of a major shopping centers and other businesses, was designated. "Mohamed Bachir Suleman is a large-scale narcotics trafficker in Mozambique, and his network contributes to the growing trend of narcotics trafficking and related money laundering across southern Africa," said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin.

The resources dedicated to these operations shows how far up the chain of priorities this trafficking pipeline has become, and how important it is to terrorist networks in our hemisphere. A few good battles won, but the war is far from over.
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