Mali seizes drugs and arrests traffickers and druglords

  These activities were funded by Denmark, the European Union, and Japan

According to the World Drug Report of 2017, West Africa's part in global drug trafficking has become a growing concern. In the Sahel region, drug trafficking is intrinsically linked to terrorism, as drug proceeds are often used to finance terrorist activities. In this regard, the World Drug Report affirms that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) is involved in cannabis and cocaine trafficking in the Sahel.

More precisely, in Mali, after arresting a drug lord in May, law enforcement officers have made several seizures during the month of June 2017, whether by overland or aerial routes.

For instance, officers from the Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) of Bamako airport have seized over 10kg of heroin concealed in two pieces of luggage which belonged to an inbound female passenger. The Bamako JAITF has been established and trained since 2014 with UNODC support, in the framework of its Airport Communication Programme (AIRCOP), implemented in partnership with the World Customs Organization (WCO) and Interpol.

Over 100kg of cannabis concealed in wooden doors

This seizure follows the arrest of a drug kingpin in Bamako by the Malian centralized drug control institution (OCS, in French: '' Office central des stupéfiants'').The trafficker played a crucial part in cannabis and cocaine trafficking in the Sahel.

More recently, at the end of June 2017, the Malian Police anti-drug squad (in French: " Brigade des Stupéfiants") seized over 100kg of cannabis. The drug was concealed in some wooden doors, set to be shipped to Dakar, Senegal.

Since 2014, in the framework of its Sahel Programme, UNODC has implemented 87 activities in Mali which benefited to 2.853 law enforcement and justice officials. Several of these activities arise from UNODC's partnership with UNPOL and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) from the Department of Peace Keeping Operations.

Amongst these 87 trainings, UNODC has organized 10 sessions on investigation and drug identification techniques that were delivered to the law enforcement entities involved in the aforementioned seizures. In this respect, the OCS stated in 2016 that ''the training sessions delivered by UNODC, and in particular those related to concealment methods and general knowledge on drugs, allowed carrying out several seizures.''

Capacity-building of law enforcement officials, in the framework of the fight against drug trafficking is a central component of UNODC's mandate in West and Central Africa.

To address these challenges effectively, UNODC places emphasis on aerial, maritime and land border control, but also in the domain of investigation and drug identification, and in the field of regional intelligence sharing.

The recent seizures made by Malian authorities showcase increased ownership of the techniques presented during UNODC training sessions. They also outline thorough engagement on behalf of the Malian government to fight against the threats affecting the region in an efficient and sustainable fashion.

The UNODC Sahel Programme produces significant results in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. It has recently launched a Progress Report featuring an exhaustive list of these results, and presenting the 399 activities implemented in the Sahel since 2014, in the fields of money laundering, corruption. Illicit trafficking, organized crime and terrorism.

Main cocaine trafficking flows 2011-2015, World Drug Report of 2017

For more information:

AIRCOP in West and Central Africa

UNODC Sahel Programme

Sahel Programme resul ts: Airport task forces in Mali and Niger seize drugs

UNODC-WCO Global Container Control Programme

World Drug Report 2017

United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations

Sahel Programme Progress Report