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Nigeria Ranked as a Pariah State for Drug Dealing


August 1994

In April the State Department classified Nigeria as one of the world's four main drug trafficking nations (Reed Kramer, "Nigerian Drug Trade Taints U.S. Relations," Washington Post, May 24, 1994, A16). Nigeria has become a major transhipment center for narcotics. Nigerian couriers smuggle 35 to 40 percent of all the heroin coming into the United States, American officials say. The State Department classification adds new sanctions to other economic and political penalties imposed on Nigeria because of a stalled democratization process and lax airport security.

Nigeria is the first country friendly to the U.S. to be penalized economically for failing to cooperate in anti-drug efforts. In the past, U.S. allies with lax enforcement have received presidential waivers. The State Department decision has been a source of hot debate within the administration. Nigeria is one of the top five U.S. suppliers of oil to the U.S. and their oil is considered some of the best in the world.

This year's annual State Department report on international drug activity says that the Nigerian based drug network "moves large quantities of heroin from Asia," operates "sophisticated money-laundering" operations, and smuggles cocaine, primarily from Brazil to Europe. "Official corruption remains a serious obstacle to effective counternarcotics efforts," the report says.