Al-Qaeda Linked to 'Air Cocaine' Network

Rogue trans-Atlantic aviation set-up sparks security fears
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2010 1:19 AM CST
Bags of cocaine are shown at the office of the Guinean drug enforcement agency. Drug traffickers running a rogue aviation network have corrupted many West African officials, say authorities.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

(Newser) – A rogue aviation network with links to al-Qaeda has security analysts seriously worried. The network, believed to consist of at least 10 aircraft, including several Boeing 727s, transports huge amounts of cocaine from South America to West African smugglers who slip it into Europe. Islamic militant groups in Africa reap vast profits from the trade, and experts fear that the network may be used to transport weapons and terrorists back across the Atlantic, reports Reuters.

"The obvious huge concern is that you have a transportation system that is capable of transporting tons of cocaine from west to east," said an aviation specialist who wrote a report on the network for the Department of Homeland Security. "It's reckless to assume that nothing is coming back. When there's terrorist organizations on either side of this pipeline, it should be a high priority to find out what is coming back on those airplanes." (Read more al-Qaeda stories.)

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