Police in Niger have seized more than 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of cocaine from the vehicle of the mayor of a small town in the country’s north, the government said Wednesday.
Nearly 200 bricks of cocaine, worth 8.7 million U.S. dollars, were apprehended in Agadez over the weekend from the official vehicle of the mayor of Fachi, a trading center about 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Agadez, according to a statement from Niger’s Central Office for the Repression of Illicit Drug Trafficking.
The mayor and his driver were taken to Niamey, Niger’s capital, for questioning and officials are pursuing another suspect believed to be involved in the smuggling, the statement said, adding that European Union agents are also involved.
“The recurrent drug seizures … speak volumes about the reality of the phenomenon in Niger. This does not reassure citizens … terrorists live off the criminal economy,” said Souleymane Mahamadou, a worried Niger citizen. “When political figures become involved in this trafficking, there is more cause for concern.”
Drug seizures have been rising in West Africa, indicating that international traffickers have made the continent an intermediary hub for smuggling drugs between South America and Europe.
In October, Senegal’s navy seized more than 2 tons of cocaine from a ship.