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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.
He shares with iWitness how he captured such intimate portraits of assassins, addicts and prostitutes caught up in a trade that is relatively new to the country but leaving a devastating mark.