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Peru joins the AIRCOP Project to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking in airports

On 28 November 2016, the National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (DEVIDA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Peru to join the EU-funded Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP).

AIRCOP is a joint initiative of UNODC, INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO), funded by the European Union (EU) under the Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace. The project began in Africa in 2010 and is part of the EU Cocaine Route Programme, aimed at providing support and technical assistance to build anti-drug capacities and strengthen cooperation between 38 countries along the trafficking route. Through AIRCOP, multi-agency task forces are created and an exchange of operational information is established in order to intensify drug interdiction efforts at international airports in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Carmen Masías, Executive President of DEVIDA, highlighted the importance of the participation of Peru in this initiative because drug seizures and actions against organized crime will be increased. She highlighted that so far in 2016, 145 drug traffickers have been arrested at Jorge Chavez International Airport alone, while at the national level, 12 tons of cocaine hydrochloride, 11 tons of cocaine paste and 6,000 tons of chemical precursors have been seized.

Irene Horejs, EU Ambassador to Peru, welcomed the actions in the fight against drug trafficking. She indicated that with AIRCOP, Peru will receive training in risk profiling, drug detection and criminal network investigation from various experts from different EU member states.

Moreover, Kristian Hölge, UNODC Representative for Peru and Ecuador, remarked that the signing of the MoU will strengthen the capacity to detect and seize drugs and other illicit goods at Jorge Chavez International Airport. He added that Peru will form part of a communication network provided by WCO and be able to connect to INTERPOL databases, all of which will help intercept illicit shipments.

Jorge Chavez International Airport, with more than 17.1 million passengers in 2015 and with 32 international airlines servicing many destinations across the world, is an important route for drugs to the United States and Europe. With the signing of the MoU, Peru becomes the ninth country in Latin America to implement AIRCOP, and is considered a strategic partner in the initiative thanks to its best practices in public security, which will serve as an example for other airports in the region.

The MoU was signed by the Executive President of DEVIDA, Carmen Masías Claux, and the UNODC Representative for Peru and Ecuador, Kristian Hölge. Also in attendance were Irene Horejs, EU Ambassador to Peru, and Sergio Naranjo, UNODC AIRCOP Project Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as other high level government officials.