A newly established Canine Unit to enhance drugs detection capacities of Cabo Verde

Drug detection dogs can be highly effective in the operational activities of many border police forces in the world. As part of its technical assistance to Cabo Verde to counter drug trafficking in the country, UNODC, together with the Italian Central Anti-Drugs Directorate (DCSA) and the Italian Guardia di Finanza, created synergies to provide the training of a new Canine Unit in support of the AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) in Praia, Cabo Verde.

The complex and highly specialized training for dogs and dog handlers on drug search and detection was organized between September 2014 and February 2015 at the Centre of Postgraduate Training in Perugia, Italy. Two officers from the Cabo Verde JAITF completed the training and subsequently returned with the three dogs donated by Italy. This 6-month training represented a unique opportunity to enhance the country's drug interdiction capacity and acquire a crucial detection tool.

On 16 March 2015, a joint UNODC - European Union delegation visited the new Canine Unit which is fully operational since March. All three dogs (Fly, Edison and Inca) are now deployed daily in the capital's airport in search for suspicious cargo and luggage.

Training for dogs and dog handlers, AIRCOP Project, Italy 2015

In 2014, two officers from the Praia JAITF also went to Brazil as part of an exchange program during the first week of the 2014 football World Cup, with the objective of learning from the Brazilian experience in the fight against drug trafficking by air. UNODC also provided specialized training to the officers on cargo and postal examinations, behavioral profiling and documentary fraud. These capacity building efforts proved to be successful. The Cabo Verdean JAITF realized 20 drugs seizures to date, for a total weight of 36.5 Kg of cocaine. 

 
Dogs donated to Cabo Verde in the framework of the AIRCOP Project

The AIRCOP project aims to build drug-interdiction capacities at international airports in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and promote intelligence and information sharing between services at national and international level. JAITFs are connected with international law enforcement databases and communication networks to enable the transmission in real time to other international airports of operational information aimed at intercepting illicit shipments.

Cabo Verdean authorities decided to join AIRCOP project in December 2009 and the Task Force became fully operational in June 2011, with members selected from Judicial Police, National Police and Customs. Since 2013, the DCSA has been providing highly qualified expertise to AIRCOP beneficiary countries such as Ghana, Cabo Verde, Senegal, Mali and Gambia. Such knowledge and skills are contributing to enhancing the drug interdiction capacity of several international airports in West Africa.

Funded by the European Union "Cocaine Route Programme" and co-funded by Canada, Norway and Japan, AIRCOP is implemented in partnership with INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization, the AIRCOP project covers 26 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. 

For more information:

The UNODC Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP)

European Union "Cocaine Route Programme"