Santiago, Chile, 22 to 26 October 2018. The twenty-eighth Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies of Latin America and the Caribbean (HONLAC) was conducted to reinforce the regional commitment to effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem.
Discussions of this high-level event, focused on four main topics, namely: (a) New modi operandi in trafficking and trends in concealment methods and transport, and effective investigative techniques in response thereto; (b) Trends in precursor control, diversion trends and trafficking routes for cocaine precursors into and through the region; (c) Use of the darknet in the illicit trade in drugs and use of cryptocurrencies for money-laundering; and (d) Developing and implementing comprehensive and sustainable alternative development programmes.
Under this framework, the efforts, challenges, and lessons learned from the CRIMJUST programme were presented, in line with the pillars of capacity building, international cooperation and institutional integrity towards effectively fighting transnational organized crime. Furthermore, the institutional integrity component of CRIMJUST, was especially emphasized as it is widely recognized that corruption seriously undermines the measures undertaken by countries to fight drug trafficking and organized crime in general.
In this sense, countries were encouraged to adopt anti-corruption measures, with UNODC's technical assistance, to strengthen their units, operations and processes, through rigorous recruitment with stricter vetting methods, permanent broad-scope training, comprehensive standard operating procedures, checks and balances, transparent disciplinary processes and accountability mechanisms, amongst others. CRIMJUST has been assisting countries in the region to uphold integrity measures in line with country-specific priorities.
The establishment of inter-agency task forces such as the teams implemented through UNODC's AIRCOP and the Container Control programmes, were also highlighted as a good practice to increase effectiveness and reduce vulnerability to corruption risks.
Finally, the way forward for CRIMJUST was discussed according to the projects' findings. In this context, important steps will be taken to generate capacity building on post-seizure investigations including the transition between investigation and prosecution; to strengthen cooperation mechanisms at a national, regional and international level with special focus in interregional cooperation; and to streamline anti-corruption and integrity actions.
Under the framework of the CRIMJUST project funded by EU 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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