Guinea Bissau has developed a reputation as a key drugs transiting country

As anti-smuggling efforts off Europe's coastline have improved, drug smuggling routes have moved further south, to the West African coastline. 

In the small African country of Guinea Bissau drug trafficking is now worth 200 per cent of the national income.

Three years ago a boat sank off the coast and hundreds of packets of powder washed up on the beaches.

"People saw something they thought was flour," recalls a fisherman. In reality the powder was cocaine.

Previously drug trafficking was almost unknown, now South American drug barons, increasingly frustrated in their ability to import directly into Europe, use the country as a stopover on the route to Europe.

Recently police made a massive seizure of cocaine. A few hours after the seizure the Attorney General and representatives of the military arrived at the police station demanding the seized cocaine.

"The drugs were taken to a safe in the ministry of finance," says a journalist, "from where they subsequently disappeared".

With a desperate lack of resources Guinea Bissau is now fighting against a reputation as a key drugs transiting country.

This episode of People & Power airs from Saturday, February 7, 2009 at the following times GMT:
Saturday: 0130, 1230, 1930; Sunday: 0330, 1030, 2330; Monday: 0730

Source: Al Jazeera