Nigeriens and third-country migrants head toward Libya from Agadez, Niger, in June 2018. (Jerome Delay/AP)

Earlier this year, police in Niger broke up a complex trafficking and forced-labor ring involved in exploiting dozens of children and hundreds of Ghanaian workers. A catchall term for illicit movement of goods and people, “trafficking” evokes images of drugs, guns, kidnapping, abuse and even slavery — and is often associated with organized crime and human suffering.

Controlling the profits from this type of activity is one driver of violent conflict in many parts of Africa, including West Africa’s Sahel region. In northern Mali, for instance, competing militias battle to control routes used to traffic shipments of illegal drugs.

But my research suggests that ordinary people elsewhere in the Sahel region may experience trafficking quite differently.…  Seguir leyendo »

A vendor displays clothing in the marketplace on May 24, 2019, in the Tunisian town of Ben Guerdane, near the border with Libya. (Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters)

Last week, Moroccan police confiscated over 12 tons of cannabis in the border town of Nador. Last year, the seizure of over 700 kg of cocaine in Algeria triggered high-profile arrests and public outrage. As dramatic stories of drug trafficking dominate the coverage of smuggling in North Africa, the reality of the region’s border economies is increasingly misunderstood.

Popular talking points suggest that smuggling in North Africa is occurring under the radar of its states, and is subverting them through corruption and the creation of porous borders that terrorist groups can exploit. Proposed solutions, including new border walls and internationally funded surveillance equipment, have focused on improving the surveillance capacity of states and raising the costs of cross-border movements.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace unas semanas se ha producido un hecho que constituye un gran paso adelante en la lucha contra las prácticas ilegales en el sector del tabaco en nuestro país: la adhesión de España al Protocolo para la Eliminación del Comercio Ilícito de Productos del Tabaco, de la Organización Mundial de la Salud.

En los informes que he dirigido en los dos últimos años sobre este importante problema —estudios realizados a instancias de ThinkCom (Instituto de Estudios Estratégicos adscrito a la Universidad Complutense de Madrid)— queda patente sus perjudiciales efectos sobre la salud pública y el importante fraude fiscal que provoca, que se estima —solo en España— en el entorno de los mil  millones de euros anuales.…  Seguir leyendo »