Insight: Surge in cocaine trade undermines Conde’s bid to revive Guinea

By David Lewis CONAKRY (Reuters) – A surge in cocaine trafficking has transformed Guinea into West Africa’s latest drug hot spot, jeopardizing President Alpha Conde’s efforts to rebuild state institutions after a military coup and attract billion of dollars in mining investment. Locals and Latin Americans long-accused of smuggling are operating freely in the country, some with high-level protection from within Conde’s administration, according to Guinean and international law enforcement officials and internal police reports seen by Reuters. Counter-narcotics agents from the United States and other countries, meanwhile, concentrated on smugglers in neighboring Guinea-Bissau, a tiny former Portuguese colony dubbed by crime experts Africa’s first “narco-state”. However, the U.S. State Department’s 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report said seizures in Guinea and cases abroad traced back there show a spike in trafficking since Conde won power at a 2010 election.