Photojournalist Marco Vernaschi documents how Western consumer-driven drug trafficking has affected and ruined the once thriving Guinea-Bissau, a small country in Western African. Below is an excerpt from Vernaschi's interview with Lens Culture about the photos from his piece "West Africa's new Achiles' Heel" ... please check out his website for a better view of the photographs and more of his brave work.
"Our concept of the world of drug trafficking is often based on cultural influences like movies... it's not something that most of us normally experience in day to day life. When I set out to research and document this story, I wanted my pictures to be both unexpected and real, straight and metaphoric. This photo essay is built up on fragments of nightmares where blood, murder, sex and drug addiction violently reveal real human misery. I think that the explicit and cinematic approach used for most of these images helps to open the back door of our mind — our imagination — where our fears meet the truth...."
"I also believe that if you want to tell about the madness and tragedy that surround the drug world you must in some way get your hands dirty: there is no way to dig into the mud and stay clean. So it was clear since the beginning that I needed to establish a strong connection with my characters. Developing this story meant that I had to live inside a real nightmare. The fear and tension stay with me, but I believe this is an important story to share with the world."