17 - 21 September - The twenty-eight Meeting of Heads of National Law Enforcement, Africa (HONLAF), organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in cooperation with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania was held in Dar es Salaam from 17 to 21 September 2018. With the main objective of effectively delivering technical assistance and support to the Member States in the region, the meeting focused on sharing and exchanging the Governments' efforts to strengthen regional and sub-regional cooperation in areas such as joint investigations, law enforcement training and the sharing of information and experience related to measures taken to counter drug trafficking in Africa.
In addition, the meeting assessed current trends in drug trafficking and the links with other forms of organized crime. The meeting also facilitated discussions and the exchange of views, findings, and conclusions on matters of regional cooperation. Regarding the phenomenon of organized crime, Tofik Murshudlu, UNODC Chief of the Implementation Support Section, highlighted recent trends in drug trafficking in Africa and links to organized crime, emphasizing the sophisticated nature of transnationally organized crime groups. Consequently, joint activities between different national agencies should increase the dynamics and effectiveness of regional law enforcement efforts to establish a lasting modality of cooperation against organized crime.
Under the theme of challenges, that drug law enforcement agencies face when investigating multilateral cases of drug trafficking, Marco Teixeira, Head of Global Programme CRIMJUST, highlighted practical measures to operationalize regional cooperation by presenting the results of a pilot initiative, "Operation Eagle", a joint-led operation between Ghana and Nigeria supported by UNODC, which has demonstrated that working in close partnership among law enforcement agencies has proven to be highly effective in generating operational results and intelligence dividends. The operation tackled drug trafficking and organized crime in both countries and resulted in the arrest of 22 suspects, the identification of 20 potential victims of human trafficking and a total drug seizure of 633 kg.
The joint operation was conducted between the Drug Law Enforcement agencies in Ghana, namely the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Ghana Police Service-Drug Law Enforcement Unit (DLEU) and Nigeria's National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). In addition, the operational effort also generated knowledge and intelligence-related with other forms of organized crime, namely; circulation of travel documents for potential use in illicit activities; movement of high-value assets linked to money laundering; tax evasion modalities; new methods of drug concealment, and suspected cyber-related offenses.
Throughout the operation, UNODC supported the planning process, as well as the deployment of liaison officers that facilitated real-time information exchanges and coordination between both countries. Based on the lessons learned from this pilot joint-operation, it reinforced the need to align actions and share intelligence between both countries to tackle the clandestine operations of organized criminal groups in order to enhance the efficiency of law enforcement responses.
As a result, the joint activity reinforced the need to align actions to share intelligence between both countries. In addition, it also established mutual trust and a structure to work collaboratively. In this regard, in the margins of HONLAF, a Memorandum of Understanding, to hold regular meetings and consultations in order to exchange practical experiences and discuss issues of mutual interest, including intelligence and operational briefings on current and completed operations and trends in drug trafficking and related organised crime, was signed by Ghana and Nigeria law enforcement institutions, Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Criminal Investigation Department Of Ghana Police Service, (CID) and The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Nigeria, respectively. The Memorandum of Understanding reflects the mutual agreement between Ghana and Nigeria to streamline joint law enforcement efforts.
Overall, at the HONLAF meeting, Member States exchanged recommendations to successfully establish further joint operations and discussed practical opportunities for future bilateral and multilateral projects to tackle drug trafficking and promote regional and interregional cooperation between law enforcement and partner agencies.
Under the framework of the CRIMJUST project funded by European Union Cocaine Route Programme, UNODC and its partners (INTERPOL and TI) aim to assist Member States to enhance their capacity and integrity of criminal justice institutions to detect, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate illicit cocaine trafficking cases, and to foster cooperation at the interregional level for effective action to tackle drug trafficking and related organized crime.
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