Drugs corrupt everyone, even public officials: police officers, judges and politicians. It also corrupts world leaders. Latin American leaders have turned to facilitating the export of cocaine due to the large profit margins. Recently, African leaders have helped have their countries serve as hubs to transport cocaine from South America to Europe. Here are five notorious dictators who have made their fortunes through cocaine.
Luis García Meza Tejada is the former dictator of Bolivia. He was a right wing anti-communist general who used his military power to take power in a coup in 1980 in what was known as the cocaine coup with the help of former Nazi and CIA agent, Klaus Barbie. Due to his drug trafficking, even right wing Ronald Reagan kept his distance from Tejada. Tejada would be ousted from power in 1981 and later sentenced to prison for human rights violations.
4. Gen. Andrés Rodríguez
Gen. Andrés Rodríguez was the former Dictator of Paraguay. Rodgriguez would ship cocaine from Paraguay to the United States according to documents discovered by the Paraguayan paper Noticias. Rodriquez came into power after taking over from Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda in 1989.
3. Yahya Jammeh
Yahya Jammeh is the President of Gambia. He seized power after a military coup in 1994 and has been in power ever since. Jammeh has threatened to cut off the heads of homosexuals and arrested thousands of people for practicing “witchcraft.”Jammeh has also been accused of importing drugs from South America to Europe through Gambia. WikiLeaks revealed that Jammeh charged three million a month to let cocaine traffickers use airstrips in Gambia.
2. Lansana Conte
Like many dictators, Lansana Conte came to power through a military coup. Conte ran the West African nation of Guinea from 1984 until his death in 2008. Conte’s son admitted to importing cocaine and several other officials from Conte’s regime have admitted to taking bribes to help facilitate the importation of cocaine. According to the Associated Press, drug deals were conducted inside the first lady’s private residence and in the president’s VIP salon at the airport. To avoid detection, cocaine was sent to Europe in the country’s diplomatic pouch.
1. Manuel Noriega
Manuel Noriega was a former CIA asset who rose from soldier to general to dictator of Panama. Through his ties to the Medillin Cartel, Noriega would launder money for its leader, Pablo Escobar. After Noriega was deposed and arrested after the 1989 invasion of Panama he would be convicted in 1992 for drug trafficking, racketeering and money laundering.