08 Nov 2021

Drug trafficking / West Africa's warning flares? Rethinking the significance of cocaine seizures

What if seizures represent cracks in political protection systems rather than reflect state efficiency?

Drug seizures are widely referred to in the media and academic reporting on drug trafficking and organised crime. Everyone knows their limitations. But what if seizures represent the exact opposite of what we generally think them to be? That is, not a reflection of state efficiency, but rather cracks in systems of political protection. If that is the case, they may appear more regularly at some times rather than others. A detailed study of West African cocaine seizures in the context of periods of political instability over a twenty-year period suggest this association is worth exploring. 

About the author

Mark Shaw is the Director of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. He was previously the National Research Foundation Professor of Justice and Security at the University of Cape Town. Mark worked for ten years at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, including as Inter-regional Advisor, Chief of the Criminal Justice Reform Unit and with the Global Programme against Transnational Organised Crime.  Before joining the UN, Mark held a number of positions in the South African government and civil society. 

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