Pulitzer Center Update

Guinea-Bissau Military Leaders Identified as "Drug Kingpins"

Image by Marco Vernaschi. Guinea Bissau, 2009.

In February, Pulitzer Center-sponsored journalist Marco Vernaschi won first place in the World Press Photo Contest for General News in the Stories category for his work on narco-trafficking in Guinea-Bissau.


Crack was an unknown drug in Bissau until 2007, when drug traffickers started their business in Guinea-Bissau. Photo by Marco Vernaschi.

Vernaschi's work documented the rise of Guinea-Bissau as a hub for cocaine trafficking. Describing Guinea-Bissau as "Africa's first narco-state," Vernaschi examined the drug industry thriving there, fueled by a global network of Latin American drug cartels and the Islamist group Hezbollah.

Last Friday, the BBC reported a major development in the Guinea-Bissau narco-trafficking industry: The United States named two senior military members from Guinea-Bissau as "drug kingpins."

Under the Drug Kingpin Act, financial sanctions have been imposed on Guinea-Bissau air force head Ibraima Papa Camara and former navy chief Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto, and U.S. citizens are barred from doing business with either man.