Iraq: International cooperation a means to halt transnational drug trafficking and criminal networks

18th February 2021 - Paris and Marseille, France
Every nation is affected by the problems of organized crime. Its destructive effects can detrimentally impact the daily lives of citizens, the economic growth, and the efforts made by governments to contain it. According to the World Drug Report 2020, drug trafficking in and through Iraq has been increasing steadily since 2003. UNODC supports the Government of Iraq with two study visits to France to enhance its efforts to counter cross-border drug trafficking.
UNODC, through the U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) funded project “Strengthening the capacities of Iraqi law enforcement and criminal investigation services”, has been delivering technical assistance to support the Iraqi law enforcement agencies in addressing organized crime and terrorism challenges, with a special focus on combatting drug trafficking. 
UNODC and the French Ministry for Interior jointly organized two study visits to Paris and Marseille in France in collaboration with the Iraqi Ministry of Interior for the benefit of a high-level delegation from the Iraqi Anti-Narcotics Directorate, including the General Director.
Within the first visit, the Iraqi delegation visited the French agency responsible for combatting drug trafficking “Office Anti-Stupéfiants’ (OFAST)”, the Anti-Narcotics Agency “Brigade de Stupéfiants de Paris (BSP),” and the OFAST airport platform unit based at Charles de Gaulle Airport. The Iraqi delegation was introduced to OFAST’s structure, mandate, the standard operating procedures (SOPs), intelligence information-sharing mechanisms, information collection, and analysis methodology as well as how to manage informants.
The visit to the BSP was notable as the Iraqi Anti-Narcotics Department in Baghdad and the BSP face similar local urban drug trafficking challenges. The exchanges aimed at informing the Iraqi delegation of the BSP operational mandates, structures, and different drug smuggling techniques. Furthermore, the Iraqi delegation visited the investigation rooms and detention cells, including a cabin for a judge/prosecutor who monitors the procedures virtually.
During the visit of the OFAST airport branch, the delegation was introduced to types of drug seizures, concealing techniques, drug trafficking routes, and drug market prices.
The visit to the OFAST regional Office in Marseille included operational insight, where the French and Iraqi representatives shared best practices and experiences as well as operational information on drug-related crimes and expertise methods deployed by the OFAST to respond.
These tripartite meetings led by UNODC resulted in drafting a timetable action plan where the technical and operational capacity building needs were identified. The study visits constitute a great success and paved the way for multilateral cooperation on counter-narcotics.
For more information:
International cooperation in criminal matters
Legal framework for drug trafficking
World Drug Report 2020

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