A heroin addict smokes heroin in Lamu November 21, 2014. 
Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

In April 2014, an Australian warship intercepted a sailboat roughly 30 nautical miles off the Kenyan coast. Aboard the ship was more than a ton of heroin, worth an estimated $260 million. The haul was approximately equal to the entire amount of heroin intercepted in East Africa’s waters between 1990 and 2009. Later that same year, Kenyan naval forces boarded a vessel from Pakistan carrying nearly 1,800 pounds of heroin. These incidents served as further confirmation of sub-Saharan Africa’s emergent role as a major narcotics hub.

Since the the early 2000s, crime syndicates have increasingly exploited the sub-Saharan region’s weak state institutions, relative poverty, and porous borders to funnel large quantities of cocaine and heroin into Europe and, to a lesser degree, North America. Narcotics trafficking has distorted the economies and politics of a number of African states while enriching violent nonstate actors, including groups linked to terrorism in the region. In addition

To read the full article

  • TOM WOODS is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and President of Woods International, LLC. 
  • MICHAEL W. BACA is an Africa analyst.
  • More By Tom Woods
  • More By Michael W. Baca