CRIMJUST workshop calls out money laundering as key facilitator of drug trafficking (Panama)


April 03-05 - Money laundering has been identified as a key facilitator of drug trafficking networks. As such, the UNODC Office for Central America (ROPAN) organized a three-day workshop in David City, Panama, offering insights on the state of money laundering at both a national and global level, along with methods to identify and prosecute transnational financial crimes. Some 22 experts participated in the training, which offered a general assessment of current anti-drug strategies and of the Panama jurisprudence system, along with an overview of the international legal framework addressing illicit financial flows.

Thanks to the support of the European Union, this CRIMJUST workshop exemplifies the type of efforts needed to obtain, share and better our knowledge and understanding of money laundering. According to the 2017 UNODC World Drug Report, some 30% of revenue acquired by cocaine trafficking directly benefits illicit financial flows distorting prices, export figures and competition as well as facilitating corruption. Criminal groups are becoming increasingly professionalized and effective, organized according to complex business structures. The workshop underlined the need for countries to form multidisciplinary teams to counter money laundering, including both financial analysts and judicial experts to build comprehensive, timely and credible judicial cases.

Participants were given an opportunity to share their concerns and difficulties encountered on the field, namely the difficulty of obtaining damming evidence, lack of specialized training, and complex bureaucratic procedures. During the workshop, possibilities for a way forward were evoked such as studying previously resolved cases to discern best practices and lessons learnt, contacting central authorities prior to launching judicial procedures, training national agents on existing international judicial tools and treaties as well as strengthening inter-institutional relations. Ultimately, expertise, experience and better use of international financial and legal instruments need to be reinforced in order to facilitate and accelerate investigations and judicial procedures.

Money laundering presents a key challenge to combatting violent non-state actors today, as it is increasingly being used by various criminal groups, including terrorist organizations, as a key source of income. The increase in scope and influence of criminal groups means they are not only acquiring a global outreach, they are also diversifying their activities. With this workshop, CRIMJUST intends to showcase money laundering as a chief security concern.

Under the framework of the CRIMJUST project funded by EU Cocaine Route Programme, UNODC and its partners (INTERPOL and TI) aim to assist Member States to enhance their capacity and integrity of criminal justice institutions to detect, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate illicit cocaine trafficking cases, and to foster cooperation at the interregional level for effective action to tackle drug trafficking and related organized crime.

For more information:

-  European Union "Cocaine Route Programme"

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND)