Sierra Leone: February 14, 2001


Unable to police its own waters, Sierra Leone has hired Southern Cross Security Company for this mission. The company uses semi-rigid "raider" boats and infantry weapons (rifles, light machineguns, rocket launchers) to patrol for smugglers, poachers (Chinese and Ghanaian fishing trawlers work in Sierra Leone's waters whenever they can avoid getting caught), and an increasing number of outright pirates. The country (after years of civil war) is impoverished and awash in guns, a deadly combination that gives rise for any number of criminal enterprises. Out of work coastal villagers with access to a boat and a rifle sometimes go into business robbing passing freighters. The company hires some mercenaries but mostly uses West Africans.--Stephen V Cole


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