Strenghtening criminal investigation and criminal justice along the Cocaine Route in Latin America, the Caribbean and Western Africa 


PROJECT DURATION: February 2016 - February 2020



LOCATION: West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean




Drug trafficking and related organized crime are not only undermining security and public health in affected communities, but also threatening governance and the rule of law. For many countries along the cocaine route the problems associated with cocaine trafficking have reached acute levels. Over time, criminal networks that operate across Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) and West Africa (WA) regions have increased their cooperation. Beyond drug trafficking, illicit flows of all kinds of illegal goods and proceeds of crime have continued to increase and diversify. The transnational nature of drug trafficking, as well as the increasing multi-crime portfolio of organized crime groups creates a challenge to member states and underlines the necessity for an equally horizontal approach to cooperation at a national, regional and inter-regional level. 

The project seeks to enhance the capacities and integrity of criminal justice institutions for regional and inter-regional cooperation to tackle drug trafficking and transnational organized crime cases along the cocaine route in LAC and WA.  

Concretely, the overall objective of the Action is to contribute to fighting effectively organized crime in general, and drug trafficking in particular, along the Cocaine route(s) in LAC and the WA in line with international legal instruments and human rights norms, standards, and good practices. 

The specific objectives aim at supporting a selected group of countries in LAC and WA in enhancing their capacity to effectively counter OC along the cocaine route, by: 

  • strengthening the capacities of criminal justice institutions (law enforcement and the judiciary) to collect evidence on, detect, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate OC/drug trafficking cases beyond national borders and at the interregional level so as to make sure that criminal justice responses are evidence-based and fully compliant with human rights and rule-of-law standards;
  • fostering interregional cooperation between criminal justice institutions (law enforcement and the judiciary) for effective action in interregional OC/drug trafficking cases by promoting good practices, information exchange, networking and South-South cooperation;
  • enhancing institutional integrity and accountability of criminal justice institutions (law enforcement and the judiciary) when dealing with OC/drug trafficking cases as a way to reinforce mutual trust and confidence within and between both regions, with the active involvement of CSOs;

There are 4 expected outcomes:

  • Outcome 1 (led by INTERPOL): Enhanced capacity of law enforcement to collect evidence for successful prosecutions of OC cases, as well as to exchange data and conduct joint investigations to tackle OC on the inter-regional level
  • Target groups: law enforcement agencies with criminal investigation mandates, such as immigration services, customs, police and gendarmerie.
  • Outcome 2 (led by UNODC): Enhanced capacity of the judiciary to prosecute and adjudicate OC cases and enhanced transnational judicial cooperation between criminal justice officials in WA and LAC
  • Target groups: selected officials involved in the prosecution and adjudication of OC/drug trafficking cases.
  • Outcome 3 (led by UNODC): Enhanced integrity and accountability of law enforcement and the judiciary, with the active participation of CSOs, for more effective investigations, prosecutions and international cooperation in relation to OC
  • Target groups: judicial actors, law enforcement agencies, anti-corruption bodies and local CSOs (e.g. including TI and its national chapters) from participating countries
  • Outcome 4 (Led by Transparency International): Enhanced capacity of CSOs to identify, monitor and propose measures to address key integrity and accountability challenges in effectively combatting OC in law enforcement and the judiciary
  • Target groups: civil society organizations, judicial actors, law enforcement agencies, and anti-corruption bodies from participating countries.


The geographic scope of the project reflects the overall Cocaine Route Programme (CRP) strategy and interregional links along Cocaine Routes that implicate a selected number of countries in West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean .

The project focusses on offering the necessary conditions to reach concrete results in terms of South-South (inter-regional) cooperation, within the proposed time frame and available resources.

The countries are selected based on:

  • Their situation facing serious and complex threats linked to organized crime activities and networks, as origin/producer or transit countries;   
  • Clearly identifiable local needs for further capacity building to strengthen national criminal justice responses to organized crime and international cooperation on inter-regional cases;  
  • Lessons learned from previous initiatives addressing cooperation between national authorities in Latin America and West Africa;   
  • Opportunities for complementarity and coordination with other initiatives developed to counter organized crime, including initiatives funded by the EU, in particular as regards the other components of the Cocaine Route Programme (CRP) of which this project is part.


News & Events:

Periodical updates on key project events and news highlights of CRIMJUST are available  here



The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna

CRIMJUST Project coordinator:

Glen Prichard