Guinea-Bissau Overturns Drug Lord Convictions

Guinea-Bissau’s media on Friday reported that the country’s top court released a ruling on June 23 overturning the convictions of two alleged drug kingpins in connection with the seizure of Guinea-Bissau’s largest narcotic haul.

Guinea-Bissau’s Supreme Court said the evidence against the two alleged kingpins “did not bear out their guilt.” 

In 2020, the court sentenced Braima Seidi Ba, a citizen of Guinea-Bissau, and Ricardo Ariza Monje, a Colombian national, to 16 years in prison after the largest drug bust operation in Guinea-Bissau, capturing 1.8 tons of cocaine hidden in flour bags in September 2019. 

Prosecutors said Ba and Monje were the alleged kingpins of the smuggling network but were never taken into custody, while the other ten suspects who had been arrested received prison sentences of four to 14 years. 

Civil society groups in Guinea-Bissau criticized the ruling saying it was evident the court was “hostage to organized crime.” 

According to the groups, the ruling “jeopardizes efforts to combat transnational organized crime and discredits the country’s image and credibility.” 

Reports last week said that the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) expressed fear that “the growing instability in West Africa, a transit route for illegal drugs on their way from South America to Europe, was facilitating drug production and trafficking.” 

Previously, the United Nations dubbed Guinea-Bissau as the “narco-state” of West Africa because of senior military and political leaders’ involvement in the drug trade. 

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