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AIRCOP holds its First Meeting of Focal Points and Heads of JAITFs in Latin America and the Caribbean

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, within the framework of the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP), held the First Regional Meeting of Focal Points and Heads of AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs) in Latin America and the Caribbean, on 15 and 16 November 2018, in Panama City, Panama.

The meeting opened on 15 November with a ceremony that included the valuable participation of the Honorable Sub-Commissioner Flavio Vergara, Assistant Secretary General of the National Security Council of Panama; His Excellency Ramón Santos, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain; Mr. José Vila del Castillo, UNODC Regional Representative for Central America and the Caribbean; Ms. Cécile Plunet, AIRCOP Global Coordinator; and Mr. Sergio Naranjo, AIRCOP Regional Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The meeting brought together AIRCOP focal points and heads of task forces from Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama and Peru. The CARICOM IMPACS Joint Regional Communication Centre (JRCC), UK Border Force and CRIMJUST, key partners in the implementation of AIRCOP in Latin America and the Caribbean, also provided valuable contributions to the meeting, underlining the important value of synergies amongst regional and international partners.

The meeting provided the opportunity to strengthen relationships between AIRCOP participating countries and partners in Latin America and the Caribbean by providing a platform for in-depth discussions and reflection on the successes, challenges, results and experiences that have arisen throughout the implementation of the project in each country, resulting in a series of conclusions and concrete recommendations for improvement that will be implemented throughout 2019.

Funded by the European Union (as part of the Cocaine Route Program, through the Instrument Contributing to Peace and Stability) with additional financial contributions from Canada, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and the United States of America, AIRCOP is implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO). The Project aims to facilitate the establishment, training and orientation of JAITFs to promote the exchange of intelligence and information between law enforcement agencies at the national and international level, as well as to strengthen the capabilities of the security forces to detect and intercept drugs, other illicit goods and high-risk passengers (including foreign terrorist fighters and victims of trafficking in persons), in countries of origin, transit and destination, to disrupt criminal networks.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, AIRCOP has contributed to the seizure of more than 6 tons of drugs, more than 3 million US Dollars of undeclared cash, several false or fraudulent travel documents, and the detention of several high-risk passengers with links to terrorism. Importantly, AIRCOP has also contributed to the disruption of criminal networks which were smuggling migrants or trafficking drug, resulting in the arrest of several airport officials in some cases.

The AIRCOP team in Latin America and the Caribbean takes advantage of this opportunity to thank the commitment of each of the participating countries and partners for their tireless work, which contributes invaluably to the success of the AIRCOP network at the regional and global levels.