The Fall of Africa's First Narco-State

Since 2007, Guinea-Bissau has become the new hub for cocaine trafficking in Africa. Drug cartels from South America and the voracious appetite for cocaine in Europe has transformed this tiny country into a living hell.

On March 2nd at 5:00 am, President Joao Bernardo Vieira was killed by order of a few generals trying to make new alliances with drug cartels.

Local drug traffickers have successfully organized a strong criminal network in Bissau. Over the last two years, abductions, murders and threats have gradually became normal practice. In this picture, an account is settled between drug dealers.

The President was shot to death and slaughtered with a machete in his kitchen. Vieira was killed upon order of a few generals trying to make new alliances with drug cartels to transform the country into a military controlled point of shipment.

During the President's funeral, Guineans gathered by the graveyard, though only a few were crying for the loss. Most were more concerned about the possibility of another civil war. In this picture, a family member of the President mourns.

Minutes after the assassination of the President, the soldiers looted his home. They stole everything they could: his phone, videos, clothes and even food. The Commando rummaged through his bedroom to steal personal documents and family pictures.

Soldiers standing in front of the military headquarters that was blown up by a remote controlled bomb that killed General Tagme Na Wai, Chief of the army.

The soldiers who executed the President broke into the compound by shooting rockets with their bazookas.

Two Nigerians affiliated with a Guinean drug trafficking ring prepare capsules containing cocaine that will be swallowed and then smuggled into Europe.

The team of soldiers who executed the President.

Joao Vieira's execution was preceded by a clash between his bodyguards and his killers outside of the presidential compound. The President's armored Hummer, parked in front of his house, was destroyed by the soldiers.

People gathered around the cemetery to protest while the ambulance transported the President's coffin to the graveyard.

The team of soldiers who executed the President.

Bissau's poorest neighborhood, Reno, is home to most of the drug traffickers. In the past two years it has also become a locus of crack addiction.

The abduction of a drug trafficker for a settling of account.

Guinea Bissau doesn't have a designated prison. One of the locations used to imprison criminals is an old colonial house.

Prisoners are free to leave the prison from 2-6 pm, but usually return to have a free daily meal. During my visit, there were three prisoners charged with drug-related crimes, for smuggling capsules of cocaine and they were all freed.

Bissau's port was the beating heart of the country until the civil war in 1998 when it was partially destroyed. Today it is a major point of shipment for cocaine.

Cocaine trafficking has turned Guinea Bissau into Africa's first narco-state, and a lucrative source of cash for Hezbollah and al Qaida as well as South American drug cartels. The double assassinations last March of the country's president and army chief of staff may have been the point of no return as this tiny country sinks into a new era of conflict.

Disclaimer: The following contains graphic imagery and content, and may not be suitable for all ages.

Photographed by: Marco Vernaschi / Pulitzer Center