2017 : positive results in the fight against firearms trafficking and for AIRCOP

Transnational organized crime is a threat to peace and human security, it impedes human rights and undermines the economic, social, cultural, political and civil development of societies. In the Sahel region, considered as one of the poorest region in the world, transnational organized crime takes advantage of porous borders and weak state institutions to expand. The UNODC Sahel Programme aims to support the Sahel countries in their efforts to develop effective criminal justice systems against illicit trafficking, organized crime and terrorism.

In their fight against transnational organized crime, the Sahel states have achieved substantial results in the past year, particularly in the fight against drugs and firearms trafficking. These results were achieved in the framework of the Sahel Programme, and with the support of the various donors of the Programme.


Firearms circulate throughout West and Central Africa with ease and without checks. At present, the authorities of the G5 Sahel have very little means of collecting data and identifying weapons legally owned by the military and security forces. UNODC works with the authorities of the G5 Sahel States to enhance their capacities, and to implement the preventive and security measures envisaged by the Firearms Protocol. UNODC support includes supporting the marking of firearms, firearms collections and destruction activities and strengthening the investigative and prosecutorial capacity to deal with firearms trafficking.

Following national and regional training workshops for the G5 Sahel law enforcement officers, 35,777 firearms have been marked in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. In Mali 100% of custom stocks are already marked, as well as 8,500 weapons from the National Police. Financial and technical support for the registration of the already marked weapons are also offered to the countries.

Early 2017, Burkinabe authorities managed to identify and seize a terrorist firearm, which had been stolen following an attack on the Intangom Police station, near the Malian border. " The identification was possible as a result of firearm marking activities and the marking kit provided by UNODC" indicates one of the police officers.


Along with firearms trafficking, the Sahel has progressively become a transit area for drug traffickers, in particular between Latin America and Europe. To enhance airport-level seizure capabilities, Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs) have been established in Mali, Niger and more recently Burkina Faso international airports. JAITFs are part of the AIRCOP project, which brings together the efforts of the World Customs Organization (WCO), INTERPOL and UNODC to enhance real-time cooperation and the exchange of operational information between international airports in Africa.

In 2017 the JAITFs in Bamako, Niamey and Ouagadougou proceeded to various seizures. Thus, 35.54 kg of drugs and 59.763 kg of gold were seized over the last twelve months. Agents based in Niamey and Burkina Faso also seized foreign currencies for a total of USD 1,001,632 and EUR 113,120. These results are a testimony of the work put in place by the JAITFs.

The Senior Air Operation Officer at the Bamako JAITF recognizes that " today, drug trafficking in the Bamako-Senou airport diminished as a result of the increased coordination afforded by the platform".

For 2018, UNODC will focus, among others, on strengthening intelligence gathering, analysis and exchange capabilities, as well as on border control in order to combat the various forms of transnational organized crime, such as drug and firearms trafficking.

The Sahelian region has always been a trade and migration route. However, factors such as weak justice systems, corruption and the presence of firearms have created an ideal environment for illicit trafficking, organized crime, terrorism and corruption. The UNODC Sahel Programme aims to provide responses to these challenges while strengthening the capacity of the authorities in the region to fight terrorism and transnational organized crime through accessible, effective and accountable criminal justice systems.

For more information :

UNODC Sahel Programme

Aircop Project

UNODC Study on Firearms