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Cannabis in flames

BISSAU, February 10, 2011 (AFP) – Police in Guinea Bissau burnt Thursday 76 kilos of cocaine and 800 kilos of cannabis that authorities had seized since 2007 in a demonstration of its efforts to banish the country’s image as a narco-state. Justice Minister Mamadu Djalo Pires and other officials looked on at the incineration, which also included 71 grammes of crack cocaine. “It is the result of efforts made by special police who operate in very difficult and in sometimes very risky conditions, without material or financial means,” public prosecutor Amine Saad said. “Despite this … we will continue our relentless efforts to put an end to this illegal activity. We don’t want our country to be considered a narco-state and will work to change our image to the outside world,” he added. In 2006, 674 kilos of cocaine were seized by police and placed in what was considered secure state coffers. However the goods disappeared in a matter of days, in circumstances yet unclear.

The tiny western African country has been considered in recent years as a major transit point for South American cocaine headed to Europe, often with the army’s complicity. The United States accuses the current Navy chief Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto nicknamed “Bubo” of being a key player in the international drug trade, calling him a “drug baron.” Last week Guinea Bissau put together a force of a hundred police officers, border guards and customs officials to tackle trafficking as well as cross-border organised crime.

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