Cooperation between Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal -  Operation OPEN ROADS against cross-border crime gives satisfactory results

Dakar, 18 December 2018 - West Africa remains a vulnerable region affected by illicit drug trafficking. Due to the transnational nature of these crimes, cross-border cooperation and a joint sub-regional response is crucial. Therefore, with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Law enforcement authorities from Senegal, The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau have set up the Operation "Open Roads", aimed at strengthening cross-border cooperation and coordination on illicit drug trafficking. From 30 November to 4 December 2018, over 300 officers from 15 law enforcement agencies took part in the operation covering ten land border posts in Seleti, Kounkane, Mpak, Senoba, Keur-Ayip (Senegal); Giboro, Soma, Farafeni (The Gambia); and Jegue and Pirada (Guinea-Bissau).

On 18 December, law enforcement authorities from these three countries met in Dakar to discuss and evaluate the results and lessons learned from that Operation "Open Roads."

During that Operation, law enforcement agents carried out over 2,000 information exchanges and searched 980 people and 490 vehicles, resulting in arrests and seizures of stolen vehicles and assets, over 3 kgs of cannabis, other drugs, and illicit imported goods. Three children were also rescued as possible victims of human trafficking and two adults were detained as potential traffickers.

Participants meeting in Dakar on 18 December 2018

"Open Roads" is part of the " Action plan on cross border drug trafficking cooperation between Senegal, the Gambia and Guinea Bissau," implemented from October to December 2018 via strategic and operational meetings between the three countries; specialized training for border officers; a simulation exercise on controlled delivery; and simultaneous cross-border joint operations, with technical expertise provided by UNODC, INTERPOL, the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UN DPKO) and the United Nations Police (UNPOL) of United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS).

The situation in West Africa highlights the urgent need for a coordinated and harmonized response between law enforcement agencies. In the framework of ECOWAS Action Plan on illicit drug trafficking, related organized crime and drug abuse in West Africa (funded by the European Union), UNODC, as the guardian of the United Nations Drug Conventions and the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, works together with Member States in West Africa to strengthen drug trafficking interception and investigation through the exchange of information and regional cooperation.

"Open Roads" showed how important it is for neighboring countries to strengthen inter-agency cooperation, gain information on modus operandi, techniques and routes, employ specialized interdiction techniques and use secured tools and databases.

The initiative is funded by Germany and the European Union and implemented by UNODC in collaboration with INTERPOL, UN DPKO and UNPOL. 



This initiative is funded by the European Union (Project ECOWAS-EU XAWZ28) and
by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany (Cross-Border Project XAMU50).