Operation Lionfish III highlighted transnational organized crime threat - supported by CRIMJUST

6 - 15 March 2017 - INTERPOL led Operation Lionfish III; held under the framework of CRIMJUST project; disrupted massive illicit flows and narco-groups in Latin America and West Africa responsible for trafficking drugs into Europe.

Between the 6 and 15 March, Operation Lionfish III, an international operation across Latin America and West Africa, was conducted. 52 tonnes of cocaine, cannabis and heroin were seized, with the cocaine haul of 25 tonnes alone estimated to be worth approximately USD 950 million.  Furthermore, the operation highlighted how precursor chemicals are being diverted from legitimate to illicit purposes, with 20 clandestine laboratories dismantled and three tonnes of precursor chemicals seized

The operation led by INTERPOL, implementing partner of UNODC in the CRIMJUST project, involved 5,000 law enforcement officials in 13 countries, with 357 arrests and the bulk of seizures resulting from intelligence-led operations by police in participating countries. The operation counted with the resources of INTERPOL's Project Fortaleza which supports Latin American countries fight organized crime syndicates, the operation involved Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Panama and Peru.  The Brazilian Federal Police played a key role by hosting its operational coordination unit.

At a planning stage, operational coordination meetings were held with the purpose of tailoring the operational activities within and intelligence approach. CRIMJUST project supported those meetings, that were organized by the INTERPOL. 

The Secretary General Stock of INTERPOL mentioned that "This operation highlights the massive scale of activities of organized crime groups in Latin America and West Africa channeling drugs into Europe."

The operation was co-organized by INTERPOL's General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, with support from the INTERPOL Regional Bureaus in Buenos Aires and Abidjan. INTERPOL's Criminal Networks unit facilitated information exchange and cross-checking against INTERPOL's global databases in real time.

 Operation Lionfish III was held under the framework of CRIMJUST, being implemented by UNODC, INTERPOL and Transparency International and funded by the European Union Cocaine Route Programme.  

Under the framework of the CRIMJUST project funded by E U 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.

For more information:

-  European Union "Cocaine Route Programme"

Transparency International