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| 3/8/2009 12:00:00 AM

How a tiny West African country became the world's first narco state

9 March-- It is the world's fifth poorest nation with no prisons and few police. Now this small west African failed state has been targeted by Colombian drug cartels, turning it into a transit hub for the cocaine trade out of Latin America and into Europe. Grant Ferrett and Ed Vulliamy tell the remarkable story of how the cocaine cavalry arrived three years ago and transformed the life of Guinea-Bissau.

How a tiny West African country became the world's first narco state How a tiny West African country became the world's first narco state
The roads outside the X Club nightspot in Bissau, capital of the world's fifth poorest country, are cracked and pot-holed. They have not been repaired since they were torn up by the tracks of military vehicles during Guinea-Bissau's civil war of the late 1990s. But the cars that are parked outside - Porsche and Audi four-wheel drives - wouldn't look out of place in the wealthiest quarters of London.

Inside, the music is thumping Europop, a beer costs more than twice the average daily income of a dollar a day. Many of the clubbers, though, are knocking back the imported whisky, which costs up to $80 a bottle. One of the regulars points out the people who represent the various stages of the cocaine supply chain from South America via Guinea-Bissau in West Africa to the UK and the rest of Europe. 'He's a pretty big dealer, and that's one of his security guys. That guy there thinks he's big news but he's just small-time. That woman is a mule. She's been to Europe a couple of times.

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