From 7 to 11 October, AIRCOP attended the 29th Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies from Latin America and the Caribbean (HONLAC) in Lima, Peru. HONLAC is a subsidiary body of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), one of the governing bodies of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Its objective is to monitor new trends, share experiences and good practices in dealing with illicit drug trafficking and further coordination and cooperation in drug law enforcement activities at the regional level.

AIRCOP Regional Coordinator for Latin American and the Caribbean provided AIRCOP perspective on drug trafficking by air in the region. He outlined the techniques of research and exchange of information at international level between inter-agency and well-trained groups. He presented the more prominent trends, routes and modus operandi in the ten countries of the region where the JAITFs (Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces) have been operating for years. Finally, he reflected upon the success stories and the challenges facing law enforcement agencies, and further highlighted that in the first seven months of 2019 only, the JAITFs across the region had recorded over 200 seizures, including 140 kilos of cocaine.

Several examples of successful international collaborations cases were presented. In September 2019, a joint investigation between the Bolivian and the Spanish polices made possible by AIRCOP dismantled a narcotrafficking group at the Santa Cruz Airport in Bolivia and led to the arrest of 9 suspects. Also in September, AIRCOP took part in two large drug seizures in Argentina. First, the Buenos Aires-based JAITFs worked alongside national and Belgian authorities and intercepted 50 kilos of drugs, including synthetic drugs. They arrested six members of an international criminal group. Later that month, the same team took part in the largest cocaine haul ever at an Airport in Argentina. They seized 255 kilos at Ezeiza International Airport and arrested thirteen “mules” traveling to Madrid on a single flight. This led to house searches where authorities seized weapons, ammunitions, IT equipment and more arrest including of airport security personnel, disarticulating this criminal network entirely. This came as a result of successful collaboration between AIRCOP, the PSA (Airport Security Police) and Customs department.

This annual event brought together heads of the main anti-narcotics agencies in Latin America and the Caribbean to facilitate cooperation and coordination in regional activities directed against illicit drug trafficking. Participants identified priority policy and law enforcement issues in the region within different working groups and will formulate reports and recommendations to the CND for its consideration and follow-up action. They praised the concrete results achieved by AIRCOP in the region as well as the support and training it provides.