Dominican Republic, Panama and Spain review current state of their criminal justice cooperation during Inter-regional Investigative Case Forum in Santo Domingo

17-18 February 2020 – CRIMJUST organized an Inter-Regional Investigative Case Forum in Santo Domingo, bringing together law enforcement officials and prosecutors from Spain, the Dominican Republic and Panama to review recent cocaine seizures as well as to discuss opportunities to enhance criminal justice cooperation between the three countries. A total of 17 participants attended, including 5 women and 12 men.

European Union Ambassador in the Dominican Republic, His Excellency Gianluca Grippa, along with Director of the National Drug Control Directorate of the Dominican Republic, Vice Admiral Félix Alburqueque Comprés, and Spanish Ambassador in the Dominican Republic, His Excellency Alejandro Abellán attended the opening ceremony reiterating their support to strengthening criminal justice investigations beyond seizures. In his opening remarks, His Excellency Gianluca Grippa pointed to the rising use of maritime containerships to smuggle cocaine from Latin America and the Caribbean to European countries, and thus, of the importance of fostering cooperation across jurisdictions to dismantle organized crime groups. Similarly, Vice Admiral Alburqueque Comprés and His Excellency Alejandro Abellán reiterated their respective countries’ commitment to building robust transregional responses to counter drug trafficking.

During the forum, CRIMJUST partner networks, including AIRCOP, the European Judicial Network, the Maritime Analysis and Operations Center (MAOC), the Iberoamerican Network of Prosecutors (Red de Fiscales Antidroga de Iberoamérica), and INTERPOL offered their inputs, exposing existing means and practices to facilitate informal dialogue between jurisdictions. Cristina Toro Ariza, member of the Ibero-american Network of Prosecutors stressed the need for effective and clear channels of communication given emerging challenges facing prosecution offices today, including a lack of institutional trust, the use of new forms of telecommunications by organized crime groups and differences in jurisdictions.

Prosecutors from Panama, the Dominican Republic and Spain described the legal frameworks handling cases of drug trafficking in their respective countries, pointing out existing international agreements, mechanisms and channels of communication to cooperate with foreign jurisdictions in criminal matters. Additionally, law enforcement officials briefed their counterparts on current and emerging drug trafficking trends and methodologies observed in their countries.

Most importantly, law enforcement officials exchanged a series of cocaine seizures linking the three countries, which would benefit from transregional criminal justice cooperation. This not only allowed participants to identify focal points within relevant agencies, but also to better understand cocaine trafficking trends observed in respective countries.

CRIMJUST continues to hold Investigative Case Forums to connect officials from Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa with their European counterparts. These forums seek to capitalize on the intelligence and evidence obtained during cocaine seizures to ensure relevant and effective actions are undertaken to prosecute cases of transnational drug trafficking.

CRIMJUST is funded by the European Union under the framework of the "Global Illicit Flows Programme (GIFP)" 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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