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UNODC and the Government of Argentina sign Memorandum of Understanding for the Implementation of the EU funded Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) at Ezeiza International Airport

On 24 May 2016, the Government of Argentina signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for the implementation of the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) at Ezeiza International Airport.

AIRCOP, funded by the European Union (EU) under the Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace, and implemented by UNODC, in partnership with INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO), is a multi-agency, anti-trafficking initiative which strengthens detection, interdiction and investigative capacities of law enforcement officials in participating airports. AIRCOP contributes to the fight against transnational organised crime and addresses the challenge of a fragmented law enforcement approach by promoting regional and trans-regional cooperation as part of the EU Cocaine Route Programme.

Argentina becomes the fifth country in Latin America and the Caribbean to sign a MoU with UNODC for the implementation of AIRCOP, joining Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Panama. The MoU paves the way for Ezeiza International Airport, one of the most important and busiest airports in South America, which received more than 9.1 million passengers in 2015, to connect to international law enforcement databases and communication networks provided by INTERPOL and WCO, enabling the real-time transmission of operational information and intelligence to other international airports, with the objective of intercepting illicit shipments.

The MoU signing ceremony, which took place at Ezeiza International Airport, was attended by high level officials of the Government of Argentina, including Her Excellency Partricia Bullrich, Minster of Security and Honorable Dr. Alberto Abad, Federal Public Revenue Administrator. The EU was represented by Ambassador José Ignacio Salafranca, Head of the EU Delegation to Argentina, while UNODC was represented by Mr. Sergio Naranjo, AIRCOP Project Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Through AIRCOP, a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF), composed of officials from the Airport Security Police (PSA), Argentine Federal Police (PFA), Argentine Tax and Customs Authority (AFIP) and INTERPOL Argentina, was set up in Feburary 2016 at Ezeiza International Airport. The JAITF has already received drug interdiction training and risk profiling in passengers and cargo from the Spanish National Police and the French Interdepartmental Anti-Drug Training Center (CIFAD) based in Fort de France, Martinique.

The next step will be to equip an office for the JAITF at the airport and connect it to other JAITFs in 26 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, which have recorded impressive results to date, with 649 seizures and 566 arrests, including 1,378 kg of cocaine, 1,117 kg of cannabis, 773 kg of methamphetamine and over 3M US dollars.