GUINEA-BISSAU: Drug intermediary [anonymous], “I can get you all the cocaine you need”

Monday, March 3, 2008

This tiny impoverished nation has developed a new industry in the last few years, becoming a major transhipment point for drugs between South America and Europe according to the UN Office for Drugs and Crime. This is the story of one of the intermediaries profiting from the evil trade, whose name has been withheld.

“I can get you all the cocaine you need. I can take you to houses where everyone is sitting around smoking it. You will see 10 year old boys smoking it and young girls as well.

“Just a few years ago the only drug you could buy here was yamba [marijuana] which everyone smokes – it’s part of the culture. But in the last two or three years, cocaine has suddenly appeared everywhere.

“The white cocaine powder comes in big qualities from Latin America and mostly for transit to Europe. Here in Guinea-Bissau it’s mostly only white people that consume it. They snort it up their noses.

“People in Guinea Bissau on the other hand mostly use what we call ‘pedra’, which is the white cocaine powder that has been transformed into little rocks. It is smoked in a pipe or added to a yamba cigarette.

“The reason people here prefer pedra is that it is more powerful than cocaine and much cheaper. You can get one rock of pedra for around 250 CFA francs ($0.40) and a few rocks can last a couple of days.  A gram of cocaine, however, costs between 6,000 CFA francs (US $15) and 12,000 CFA francs ($30) depending on your source and it is only enough for a night or two.

"Nowadays pedra can be found almost anywhere in the country, even in remote villages, but the most notorious area for it is called Reno [in Bissau]. It’s a tough neighbourhood where even police are afraid to go. Reno was bad before but in the last couple of years it has really gotten out of control.

"I don’t know of any pedra dealers who are really rich. The fancy cars, like Jaguars, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7s and Hummers you see around town are owned by the international cocaine traffickers.

"Nowadays there is less cocaine here because Guinea Bissau has gotten a reputation as a narcostate so many big traffickers are now shipping it to Guinea Conakry instead.

"But some still come to Bissau from Conakry by canoe but not as much as before. That’s a problem because demand is high so we are seeing more and more rips offs. For example you think you have bought a kilo bag of cocaine but the bag only has cocaine on the top with white flour underneath.

"It’s a risky business and there have been some shootings recently in Bissau between drug gangs. The safest way to buy is directly from the police and army but you have to have good contacts."

Source: IRIN