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AIRCOP supports the dismantling of a criminal group operating at the Punta Cana International Airport in the Dominican Republic

On 5 May 2018, the Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) of the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) in Punta Cana (Dominican Republic°, alerted the National Unit for the Fight against Narcotics at the Lisbon International Airport in Lisbon, Portugal, of the movement of a passenger suspected of trafficking cocaine. This case of international cooperation between the Dominican Republic and Portugal resulted in the seizure of 13.5 kg of cocaine upon arrival of the passenger in Lisbon and the detention of the individual. This also sparked an extensive investigation which led to the dismantling of an organized crime group operating at the Punta Cana International Airport. To date, 10 officers of various law enforcement agencies in the Dominican Republic have been arrested as a result of this operation .

Through the establishment, training and mentoring of Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs), AIRCOP, implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO), aims at strengthening the capacities of international airports to detect and intercept drugs, other illicit goods and high-risk passengers (including foreign terrorist fighters), in origin, transit and destination countries, with the overall objective of disrupting criminal networks. AIRCOP also promotes intelligence and information sharing between law enforcement agencies at national and international level, as well as an intelligence-led approach to countering drug trafficking as well as other types of threats.

The project was initially designed in 2010 as part of the European Union's Cocaine Route Programme to curb cocaine trafficking on passengers, in cargo and mail, from source countries in Latin America - via the Caribbean and Africa - to Europe. 

Since 2010, the increase capacity and knowledge of trained personnel has led to the expansion of the project scope to cover multiple threats targeting airports, including all illicit drugs, other illicit goods (such as wildlife, counterfeit medicine or weapons) and most recently terrorism and trafficking in persons. The project has also expanded its geographical coverage and its network currently covers over 30 countries, including 24 airports with an international JAITF, and 5 associate countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

In the Dominican Republic, JAITFs are currently operational at the international airports in Punta Cana and Santo Domingo. These JAITFs are composed of law-enforcement officers from the National Directorate against Drugs (DNCD in Spanish), the Specialized Agency for Airport Security and Civil Aviation (CESAC), J2 - Military Intelligence, the National Directorate of Intelligence (DNI), the Customs Department and the Immigration Department. Under the coordination of the DNCD and with the support of all participating agencies, the JAITFs in the Dominican Republic continue to produce excellent results with numerous seizures, more than 80% of which are the result of the exchange of information with law enforcement officers based at major international airports in European cities, including Madrid and Brussels. 

The AIRCOP JAITFs in the Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) and Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo (SDQ) have seized over 460 kg of drugs, predominantly cocaine, in the last three years, accounting for 15% of all drug seizures by JAITFs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Likewise, the Dominican JAITFs have also confiscated approximately 1 million USD in undeclared cash.  These results have also led to the detention of 129 individuals.
The success of the JAITFs in Punta Cana and Las Americas international airports, has motivated the Dominican Government to propose the expansion of the AIRCOP project to other international airports in the Dominican Republic.