Niamey, NigerPolice in northern Niger have seized more than 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of cocaine worth around $8.7 million that was being transported in the local mayor's official truck, two police sources said on Monday.
Niger police find cocaine worth nearly $9 million in mayor's truck
The mayor and his driver, who were in the vehicle at the time, were arrested with 199 bricks of cocaine at a checkpoint on the road heading north out of the desert trading hub of Agadez on Sunday, the sources said.
A statement from Niger's Central Office for the Repression of Illicit Drug Trafficking (OCRTIS) confirmed that there had been a record seizure of more than 440 pounds of cocaine in Agadez but did not give details.
West Africa -- most often a transit route for illegal drugs on the way from South America to Europe -- has registered a series of record busts in recent years.
Senegal seized more than two tons of pure cocaine from a ship off its Atlantic coast in October, and Gambian authorities seized nearly three tons last January from a shipment originating in Ecuador.
After 16.7 tons of cannabis resin worth around $37 million were seized in Niger last May, Interpol's drug unit coordinator, Jan Drapal, told Reuters that drug kingpins were sending larger shipments in response to increasing European demand.