Issue

Drug Crises

Militant Islamists escort drug convoys through northern Mali in exchange for hefty payments. The U.S. military and Honduran authorities use commando-style tactics to catch traffickers in the remote jungles of La Moskitia. A 15-year old from Ciudad Juarez, the most violent city in Mexico, chooses the clarinet over drugs after dropping out of school twice.

Drug Crises tells of men, women, and children who risk their lives—as drug users, traffickers, smugglers, and enforcement agents. You will find searing portraits of those who suffer from addiction, their family members, and loved ones. These are stories not only of lives lost and opportunities missed, but also of the fear and disruption that can overwhelm a community.

Pulitzer Center journalists expose corruption, extortion, and murder in an often violent war on drugs, fought in all corners of the globe, in Cuba and Crimea, in Bolivia and Burma, and from the Philippines to Tajikistan. They cover various recovery programs, such as opioid substitution therapy, as well as policy debates involving the roles of drug enforcement agents, the police, the military, and government. And they ask important questions: Are drug users criminals or patients in need of medical treatment?

 

Drug Crises

Guinea Bissau: A Narco State in Africa

When Marco Vernaschi, an Italian photojournalist, decided to head to the West African nation of Guinea Bissau, he knew that cocaine traffickers had already destabilized the tiny former Portuguese colony. But when he arrived on the scene shortly after the country's president and army chief were brutally assassinated last March, Vernaschi saw a place spiraling into a gangster's paradise. He has documented the chilling impact of the drug trade in places like Bolivia, and spent months in Guinea Bissau getting to know drug gangs from the inside.

Guinea Bissau: A bomb, private jets and cocaine

(Editor's note: This is the second of eight dispatches, recounting events surrounding the double assassinations of Guinea Bissau's president and army chief of staff last March and the country's emergence as a 'narco state.')

Guinea Bissau: Double assassination

I was drinking a coffee at Baiana when the Afropop music played by the local radio suddenly stopped. A frantic speaker was trying to report about a blast that had just killed a few soldiers, destroying the military headquarters.

Photo Essay: Murder, Cocaine in Guinea Bissau

Cocaine trafficking has turned Guinea-Bissau into Africa's first narco-state, and a lucrative source of cash for Hezbollah and Al Qaeda as well as South American drug cartels. The double assassinations last March of the country's president and army chief of staff exposed a lawless state that is spiraling out of control. The images below, which originally ran as the cover spread for The Sunday Times Spectrum Magazine, chronicle the intersection of drugs and violence in Guinea Bissau.