11 November 2022 – With support from the European Union and the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the training 'Cyber elements of drug trafficking investigations', launched by CRIMJUST and Cybercrime by the end of 2021, is a series of hands-on exercises designed to provide law enforcement and judiciary officers with the knowledge, tools, and training necessary to investigate and prosecute cyber aspects of drug trafficking.During 2022, the forementioned programmes have delivered 7 capacity-building activities to a total of 179 participants criminal justice officers, including, investigators, magistrates and prosecutors from West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. From 7 to 11 November, UNODC delivered the last training of the year. On this occasion, it counted on the participation of 25 investigators and prosecutors from Bolivia, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Colombia in an effort to strengthen capacities to carry out cyber investigations and to investigate illicit activities linked to drug trafficking.
The last few years have seen a generalized rise of internet users, social media platforms, all within the context of a yet insufficiently deregulated environment, namely the less known and supervised corners of the internet, including the darknet. All of this, in combination with the advent of cryptocurrencies and technologies that allow for greater ease of exchange of money internationally illegally, have allowed for organised crime groups engaged in drug trafficking to capitalise on these technologies to expand and improve their operations, which in turn create the clear need of UNODC’S support and technical assistance. These series of trainings had a set of well-defined objectives, from addressing new perspectives on the use of digital technology to facilitate drug trafficking and related crimes, exploring the degree of importance of digital evidence in criminal investigations and prosecutions.
Sylvie Bertrand, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Regional Representative for Central America and the Caribbean, alongside Pablo Argente, in representation of the European Union, inaugurated the training in November. Both the EU and UNODC’s representatives reiterated the benefits brought by this training seeking to increase knowledge and share digital tools that are available for criminal justice authorities in West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the first session, the legal aspects surrounding cyber enabled drug trafficking and related crimes were covered. Throughout it, a plethora of matters were addressed, concerning just how organised crime groups today utilise digital means to facilitate their operations and how police and investigative authorities must keep pace, always paying due mind to legal issues surrounding the identifying and tackling the most common techniques and how to ensure that any evidence obtained in these efforts is duly admissible regardless of jurisdiction.
During the following sessions, all the most pressing questions surrounding the cyber elements of drug trafficking were reviewed, including open-source investigations, the current state of cybercrime and the related digital forensics analysis, finishing with best practices on forensics and due process in the investigation of drug trafficking enabled by digital technologies.
The trainings amounted to a significant and palpable broad capacity-building benefit, empowering hundreds of leading West African, Latin American and Caribbean investigators and prosecutors with the tools they need to effectively combat the ever-changing modus operandi of organized crime groups and their cyber-enabled drug trafficking operations.
CRIMJUST is funded by the European Union and by the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). 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.
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