UNODC continues countering intercontinental drug trafficking by implementing JAITFs in the framework of the AIRCOP project

As part of its continued support to counter illicit trafficking in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, UNODC, in partnership with the World Customs Organization and INTERPOL and with the support of the National Security Council of Panama, organized the 4th International Annual Meeting of the AIRCOP Project in Panama City from 21 to 23 April 2015.

AIRCOP aims at strengthening detection, interdiction and investigative capacities of participating international airports through the sharing of operational information and the establishment and training of inter-service Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs) to enable beneficiary countries to tackle illicit trafficking and other forms of transnational crime.

The 4th AIRCOP International Annual Meeting brought together over 60 participants from 35 countries, regrouping officials from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and the US, as well as donors and key national and international partners and law enforcement agencies.

4th AIRCOP International Annual Meeting, Panama City, 21-23 April 2015

Africa continues to be one of the world's major transit areas for cocaine trafficking from Latin America and the Caribbean to Europe. Typically, cocaine is shipped by air through the use of dedicated aircrafts, couriers or air freight. As cocaine, and other illicit goods, may be moved several times before being eventually shipped to their final destination, law enforcement agencies may receive key information in the process. The culture of intelligence gathering and information sharing is not yet rooted in regular working networks, highlighting the need for AIRCOP's collaborative approach, linking source, transit and destination countries.

In this context, the meeting brought together officials from Benin, Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo as well as from Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama and Peru. These exchanged experiences and best practices in the fight against illicit trafficking via air routes with the aim of creating a link between AIRCOP countries and strengthening coordination of their actions and sharing of information between JAITFs.

Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force, Tocumen International Airport

The AIRCOP delegation visited the newly established Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force of Tocumen International Airport in Panama, accompanied by high-ranking officials and representatives of UNODC, the European Union, WCO, INTERPOL, Brazil, El Salvador and Peru. The National Security Council of Panama expressed its readiness to cooperate with various stakeholders and confirmed the JAITF's commitment to combat illicit trafficking through passengers, cargo and light aircraft.

Funded by the European Union "Cocaine Route Programme" and co-funded by Canada, Norway and Japan, the AIRCOP project has trained 809 officials, including 121 women, through 48 training and mentoring activities and joint operations since its creation. This has enabled the JAITFs to seize 635 kg of cocaine, 449 kg of cannabis, 85 kg of heroin, 336 kg methamphetamine and 1.5 tons of counterfeit drugs resulting in 291 seizures and 321 arrests.

For more information:

The UNODC Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP)

European Union "Cocaine Route Programme"