The European Police Office (Europol) is "relatively sure" that South American drug traffickers are working with an Al Qaeda offshoot in North Africa to smuggle cocaine into Europe.
A Europol representative told the Associated Press about the alleged links between criminal gangs and a group known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which operates in the region between Niger and Mauritania.
Europol's Troels Oerting said that "North Africa and West Africa is a huge problem area for us because of weak states ... failed states or states that aren't easy to work with."
The comments come as representatives from the U.S., Europe, African and Latin American countries met in Lisbon for a transatlantic conference on international crime.
InSight has reported on evidence that Mexican drug cartels are increasingly operating in West Africa, taking advantage of the weakness of governments in the region to ship drugs through these countries to Europe.