The region of West Africa has a long history in the international drug trade. However, in recent years its role has increased into a major hub for the trafficking, manufacture, and use of drugs. In this paper I will discuss the history of West Africa and it's role in this drug trade, and show how it has exponentially increased within the past decade. I will list and explain the most threatening drugs smuggled into West Africa. I will proceed to extrapolate on the many harmful effects the drug trade has on West African governments and society. Finally, I will present how West Africa and Foreign assistance have attempted to mitigate the drug trade consuming the region. .
Small-scale smuggling has been present in West Africa since the mid 1900s. The primary drugs of choice by smugglers were cocaine, from South America, heroin, from Asia and the Middle East, and more recently methamphetamines, which are domestically brewed. Before the current spotlight on drugs in West Africa, many traffickers ran into little resistance from domestic and foreign enforcements, because the region wasn't considered an area of large production. Nigeria is believed to be the country that pioneered and exploited this weakness first in West Africa, which set off a domino effect in the region. Nigerian smugglers would travel to South America or Asia to buy small quantities of cocaine or heroin that they could carry back to West Africa for redistribution. They developed the technique of swallowing condoms filled with cocaine and heroin, which became a hallmark in West Africa and other countries in the world1. This small scale of drug trafficking did not last long though, as more countries in West Africa began to see the ease of the lucrative trade. The roots of the West African emergence as a major transit point came in the 1960s, the era of youth rebellion, when a mass market for illicit drugs was developed in the UK and America1.