The sea lanes of the South Atlantic have become a favored route for drug traffickers carrying narcotics from Latin America to West and North Africa, where al Qaeda-related groups are increasingly involved in transporting the drugs to Europe, intelligence officials and counternarcotics specialists say.
A Middle Eastern intelligence official said his agency has picked up "very worrisome reports" of rapidly growing cooperation between Islamic militants operating in North and West Africa and drug lords in Latin America. With U.S. attention focused on the Caribbean and Africans lacking the means to police their shores, the vast sea lanes of the South Atlantic are wide open to illegal navigation, the official said.
"The South Atlantic has become a no-man's sea," said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity owing to the nature of his work.
A spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) confirmed the new route.
...The Washington Times reported in March that Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese Shi'ite group, is deeply involved in the drug trade. Increasingly, however, Sunni groups linked to al Qaeda are also dealing in narcotics to finance their organizations, specialists say.