G8 ministers target Africa cocaine route
Paris - G8 powers on Tuesday launched a strategy to curb drug trafficking by sharing intelligence particularly targeting west Africa, a major transit region for cocaine from Latin America to Europe.
Police in Europe will establish links with regional intelligence hubs in Ghana and Senegal and propose to set up similar connections in Latin America, said France's Interior Minister Claude Gueant.
The aim is to "improve the gathering and sharing of information" on drug traffickers, he told reporters after a conference with his G8 counterparts and officials from 20 other states and nine international organisations.
Ministers also agreed on the need to streamline cooperation to help authorities swoop on boats carrying drugs at sea, he said.
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy suggested on Monday that a global fund be set up under United Nations control to combat the narcotics trade using money seized from convicted drug barons.
Sarkozy is president of the Group of Eight major powers this year and hosts its leaders at a summit on May 26 and 27.
The drugs conference drew up an action plan to present to that summit and entrusted the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime directed by Yuri Fedotov with setting up the proposed fund, Gueant said.
Sarkozy said the number of cocaine users in Europe was now around five million, double the level of a decade ago.
Experts say Latin American drug traffickers have opened new routes to Europe via the Caribbean and west Africa to meet the demand.
Fedotov said he suspected there were links between the cocaine trade and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has launched attacks and kidnappings in northern Africa.