Vienna, 7 March 2023 — While the production of drugs derived from plants – such as cocaine and heroin – is geographically constrained, synthetic drugs can be made anywhere with the necessary chemicals and some know-how. This creates a unique challenge for law enforcement agencies – how do you respond to the trafficking of drugs that can be made anywhere in the world?
One response to this challenge is the use of advanced investigative techniques known as controlled deliveries, in which law enforcement agencies conduct intelligence-led operations to intercept the transportation and delivery of a consignment of illicit goods through the use of covert tactics. This technique enables authorities to determine the true sources, transit routes and destinations of these goods and can lead to the identification and arrest of offenders and the disruption of criminal networks.
The carrying out of a controlled delivery operation is highly complex. It requires cooperation between law enforcement and prosecution agencies, frequently across borders, as well as other organisations that may be affected by the movement of goods such as delivery companies and airlines.
To address these complexities, a specialised module on Advanced Investigative Techniques has been launched on the UN Toolkit on Synthetic Drugs. Co-developed with the UNODC CRIMJUST Global Programme, the module features a comprehensive set of tools on controlled deliveries from various international organizations, including guidance on authorizing operations in line with national and international law and information on gathering evidence and building a case for prosecution.
“By gathering international resources on controlled deliveries in one place, law enforcement agencies around the world can efficiently learn more about a tested and proven approach to tackling the synthetic drugs problem,” Justice Tettey, chief of the Drugs, Laboratory and Scientific Services Branch noted.
To showcase the practical uses of these resources, UNODC will host demonstrations of the new module in March. The demonstrations will also spotlight the use of controlled deliveries in the 2021 Operation Azure, during which law enforcement officers from 10 countries successfully disrupted synthetic opioid trafficking across Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, resulting in 18 arrests and the seizure of over 480 kg of drugs.
A virtual demonstration of the module will be held on March 15, 9:00-9:50 (CET). Attendees from across sectors are encouraged to participate.
The UN Toolkit on Synthetic Drugs contains over 300 cross-cutting tools and resources from across the UN system to help respond to the challenges posed by Synthetic Drugs. It can be accessed at https://syntheticdrugs.unodc.org/syntheticdrugs/toolkit.html.