CRIMJUST and SIMCI launch online version of their technical training to strengthen institutional responses to drug production and trafficking

22 - 26 March 2021 - The EU-funded CRIMJUST Global Programme in partnership with UNODC’s Integrated System for Monitoring Illicit Crops (SIMCI) implemented a five-day online training, in daily sessions of two hours, on cocaine production and trafficking investigations to 73 prosecutors and investigators (20 female and 53 male) from Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay. This training sought to shed light on the inherent link between discerning the technical and chemical processes involved in cocaine production and dismantling clandestine cocaine manufacturing laboratories.

During the opening ceremony, Ms. Andreea Schmidt, Programme Manager of the Global Illicit Flows Programme, recalled the importance of strengthening communication channels between criminal justice agencies and enhancing criminal justice cooperation to implement effective drug-supply reduction strategies. Amid the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, it is now more than ever critical, she argued, that expertise and intelligence are shared between countries to prevent organized crime groups from exploiting the fear and shortages brought about by the pandemic. Her statement was echoed by Mr. Antonino de Leo, UNODC Regional Representative for Ecuador, Peru and the Southern Cone countries. Despite current cocaine production at record high levels, cocaine seized over the past decade rose by 74 percent, compared with an estimated 50 percent increase in manufacture during this same period. This comparative success is attributed to the use of international cooperation as a critical tool to enhance law enforcement agencies’ effectiveness in reducing the supply of cocaine.

During the five-day training, SIMCI experts discussed the chemical and technical processes involved in cocaine production, as well as criminal investigative techniques used in the field to detect, investigate and prosecute cocaine manufacturing and trafficking. Sessions addressed a variety of issues, including monitoring and countering illicit crops, processes involved in the extraction and production of alkaloids, as well as the trafficking of chemical substances. These were further complemented by a series of sessions comparing natural and synthetic drugs, analysing the latter’s transformative role on the global drug market and on international drug trafficking dynamics at large.

 According to the 2020 World Drug Report, cocaine manufacturing hit a record high of 1,723 tons in 2018 – 70 percent of which are estimated to be produced in Colombia, followed by Peru (20 percent) and Bolivia (10 percent). However, the increase of seizures of coca base and paste, as well as of coca leaves outside traditional cocaine manufacturing countries points to efforts by organized crime groups to outsource cocaine production processes to neighbouring countries. Furthermore, the outbreak of COVID-19 has reportedly caused organized crime groups to alter and adjust their cocaine production methods. Against this background, it is imperative to provide criminal justice practitioners the knowledge and tools to adapt their targeting strategies and enhance their capacities to investigate and prosecute illicit drug production.

This training is the first of a series of five to be delivered in 2021. It will be further implemented to the following countries: Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Brazil, Capo Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Morocco.

 This CRIMJUST activity was funded by the European Union under the framework of the "Global Illicit Flows Programme" [GIFP]). It seeks to enhance law enforcement and judicial counter-narcotic strategies beyond interdiction activities and to foster transnational responses targeting each stage of the drug supply chain.

For more information, please visit:

-  European Union