A joint INTERPOL-UNODC operation against illicit firearms trafficking in West Africa has seen arrests and the seizure of firearms and ammunition.

A joint INTERPOL-UNODC operation against illicit firearms trafficking in West Africa has seen arrests and the seizure of firearms and ammunition

23 December 2019 - A cross-border operation across West Africa codenamed "KAFO" 1, jointly coordinated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the INTERPOL Firearms Programme, targeted the people and networks behind firearms trafficking in Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire and Mali.

Involving 110 police, customs, border police and prosecution services from all three countries, the seven-day operation lasting from 11 to 17 November permitted law enforcement to intercept illicit firearms and identify potential links with other criminal activity across the region and beyond, including terrorism.

Thousands of checks for lost and stolen firearms as well as for wanted persons, stolen and lost travel documents, and stolen motor vehicles were conducted during the operation.

The operation is part of joint efforts to strengthen the criminal justice chain to prevent and counter illicit firearms trafficking and related crimes, from detection to prosecution and adjudication.

Boosting West African detection and investigative skills

One of the key objectives for this joint operation was to provide training in the use of operational tools as well as techniques to support the fight against illicit firearms trafficking. This included training on the detection of firearms trafficking at land border crossings; encouraging the use of the iARMS database and improving coordination and cooperation with the judiciary and prosecution services.

To this effect, 27 officials from the three countries, representing the judiciaries, the National Commissions to Combat the Proliferation and Illicit Circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, the Police, the Gendarmerie, the Customs, and the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCB), received advanced training on key issues. This Included UNODC's training on detection and investigation of firearms trafficking at land border crossing points as well as on INTERPOL global policing capabilities, including iARMS and the INTERPOL Firearms Reference Table (IFRT).

Ahead of the operation, Côte d'Ivoire's National Commission to Combat the Proliferation and Illicit Circulation of Small Arms and Light Weapons also benefited from the extension of the INTERPOL i-24/7 secure communication system and direct iARMS access. Tailored follow-up support for onward investigations and prosecutions of cases emerging from the operation, and support for evidence-based monitoring of the illicit arms flows in the target countries will complement the joint operation and help enhancing the intelligence picture of illicit firearms trafficking within and among the three target countries.

This joint initiative is another example of the growing cooperation between the two EU funded Firearms Programmes of UNODC and INTERPOL, to build on each one's expertise and add value to the support to beneficiary countries.

"Operation KAFO clearly demonstrates that by pooling the global expertise of our respective organizations in the field, UNODC and INTERPOL can make sure that borders everywhere hinder criminals whilst uniting law enforcement, and make the world a safer place," said Assistant Director of Forensics and Police Data Management Cyril Gout, who is in charge of INTERPOL's global firearms programme.

Operation KAFO was made possible with the support from Germany, Japan, and the European Union (EU).

 



1 KAFO means active solidarity or union in action in both Haoussa and Bambara, common languages for the three targeted countries.