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Multiple Facets of Trans-border Crime

Terrorism, hostage-taking, highway robbery and smuggling are most rampant in the Sub-region.

Crime mongers using organised or spontaneous modus operandi continue to flout security efforts adopted every year in local, international and high-profile security conclaves. With ingenuity, the criminals perpetrate banditry, contraband, trafficking, kidnapping and even terrorism of all kinds.

Terrorism, Hostage-Taking

Countries in the Central African Sub-region such as Cameroon have been brought, in recent years, to bear the high cost of cross-border insecurity from armed rebels or terrorist groups operating in Central African Republic and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Since 2009, the notorious Abubakar Shekau has been leading his Nigeria-based terrorist group, Boko Haram, on rampage, exporting armed and suicide bomb attacks to neighbouring Central African countries such as Cameroon and Chad. Instability in the Central African Republic has also seen the rise of cross-border hostage-taking by armed groups. The most recent are the September 2012 attacks on a tollgate in the border town of Garoua Boulaï which caused three deaths and the March 19, 2015 kidnapping of the Mayor of Lagdo and several others 11 km from Garoua Boulaï in the East Region by armed groups from neighbouring Central Africa Republic.

Trans-border Banditry, Highway Robbery

It was once believed until recently that the phenomenon of highway robbery perpetrated by criminals from neighbouring countries had been ended in the Grand North. Seven trucks were attacked on May 26, 2015 in the locality of Yanli, 37 km from Touboro in the North Region as they returned from the Habaga market. The 30 persons who were on-board and were robbed of over FCFA 30 million, attested that the 15 armed bandits were from the Central African Republic. On May 2, 2015, members of the Boko Haram sect reportedly stole a herd of cattle in Mahda, a locality in Waza Sub-division of the Far North Region.

Smuggling, Stolen Vehicles 

One of the greatest challenges facing States in the Central African sub-region has been the control of contraband rings due to the porosity of frontiers. In November 2013, a survey by Cameroon’s association of businessmen, GICAM, portrayed that smuggling, counterfeit goods and other forms of illicit trade caused 15 companies to record losses amounting to FCFA 175 billion and FCFA 75 billion in losses to the State in terms of custom duties. Contraband goods include petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, textiles, pens, matches, motor spare parts, cigarettes and liquours, amongst others.

As far back as February 2010, over 20 stolen luxury vehicles transiting from Nigeria to Cameroon and from Cameroon to Chad were impounded in the locality of Amchidé in the Far North Region. Sources at the Gendarmerie post in Mora reported at the time that it was a well-organised network with tentacles in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. A year before, INTERPOL reported that over 5,000 cases of stolen vehicles were recorded in Cameroon and trafficked in various networks with retail outlets to neighbouring countries, with some even using diplomatic plates to hide their origin.

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