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UNODC and the Government of El Salvador sign Memorandum of Understanding for the Implementation of the EU funded Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) at Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero and Galdámez International Airport

On 10 August 2016, the Government of El Salvador 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 Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero and Galdámez 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.

El Salvador becomes the sixth country in Latin America and the Caribbean to sign a MoU with UNODC for the implementation of AIRCOP, joining Argentina, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Barbados. The MoU paves the way for Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero and Galdámez International Airport, the third busiest in Central America by passenger traffic, with more than 2.7 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 the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, was attended by high level officials of the Government of El Salvador, including Honorable Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde, Minister of Justice and Public Security, Honorable Andrés Alexander Ramírez Medrano, Executive Director of the National Anti-Drugs Commission and Mr. Nelson Vanegas, President of the Autonomous Executive Port Commission. The EU was represented by Mr. Pierre Yves Baulain, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to El Salvador, while UNODC was represented by Mr. Olivier Inizan, Deputy Regional Representative for Central America and the Caribbean.

The next step will be to set up a Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF), composed of officials from the National Civil Police, National Office for Immigration and Foreign Affairs and the Customs Office, at Monseñor Oscar Arnulfo Romero and Galdámez International Airport and provide them with drug interdiction training and risk profiling in passengers and cargo.

The El Salvador JAITF will be connected 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.