A police chief in Guinea-Bissau said on Thursday that nearly one tonne of cocaine seized by authorities late last year has "disappeared into thin air".
Domingos Monteiro, the director of the judicial police in the West African country, said that officers had seized 980 kilogrammes of cocaine in November 2021, in a smuggling operation whose details remain unclear.
"But 975 kilos simply disappeared into thin air," the police chief told AFP, adding that police and security forces officers are suspected of having appropriated the cocaine.
One police officer has been arrested, Monteio said.
On Thursday, a trial concerning the trafficking of the one tonne of cocaine began in the capital Bissau, an AFP journalist present said, where seven out of nine suspects appeared in court.
It remains unclear whether members of the security forces are among the suspects.
Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in the world, and has had a long history of military coups and political assassinations since its independence from Portugal in 1974.
This month saw a failed coup attempt against President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, for example.
Volatility, poverty and a porous coastline have made the country a hub for cocaine trafficking between Latin American and Europe, with senior figures in the Bissau-Guinean security forces implicated in the trade.
In September 2019, police seized some two tonnes of cocaine which had arrived in Guinea-Bissau from Colombia -- the largest such haul in the country's history.