Matthias Kennert

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MATTHIAS KENNERT holds a joint masters degree in International Relations from Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and Universität Potsdam, Germany. He obtained a bachelors degree in International Political Management at Hochschule Bremen University of Applied Sciences. He also studied at Istanbul Kültür University in Turkey and George Washington University, Washington D.C. With a background in security and defense policy, he gained professional experience at the German Federal Academy for Security Policy, the Defence Committee of the German Federal Parliament, the Embassy of Germany in Bolivia as well as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Having been awarded the Mercator Fellowship on International Affairs, his current work focuses on criminal activities which become relevant for security policy in order to explore risks and opportunities of civil-military cooperation in combating transnational organized crime. Since February 2017 Matthias Kennert is affiliated with International Alert Philippines working on illicit firearms. [Photo by: David Ausserhofer / MPC GmbH]

Interface Between Transnational Organized Crime and Security Policy: Cocaine Trafficking from Latin America to West Africa, An Emerging Crime-Terror Nexus?

The global cocaine market is valued at an estimated 88 billion US-Dollar; with Peru, Colombia and Bolivia accounting for virtually all cocaine manufactured worldwide. Thus, trafficking remains to be originating from Latin America, predominantly en route to North America and Europe.

While ramifications unfolded by northbound drug trafficking come into view exemplarily in the Mexican drug war, in particular the involvement of the Colombian FARC guerrilla in the drug business displays the interface of criminal activities and security policy in Latin America.

Cocaine destined for Europe is frequently trafficked via West Africa, transiting the Sahel region (in particular Mali and Niger). Terrorist groups present in the Sahel, such as AQMI, Ansar Dine, MUJAO and Boko Haram, are increasingly involved in the trafficking of illicit drugs to finance their terrorist activities, which yields a linkage between crime and security policy.

Implications of organized crime, which disseminate into the realm of security policy, pose serious challenges to national authorities in both regions: To conduct their activities, criminal groups require some degree of stability and functioning infrastructure – hence, they exert influence aiming at weakening state authority and restricting state interference only to a limited degree. In contrast, terrorists seek to overthrow the political status quo by employing military means.

In order to combat criminals and terrorist groups effectively, a lucid role allocation for police and law enforcement (entitled to fight crime) and the military (equipped to target terrorism) by taking into consideration capabilities and limitations of both soldiers and policemen is deemed critical.