AIRCOP cocaine seizures in Caribbean and Central America on the increase

Since stepping up activities in the Westerm hemisphere this year the Cocaine Route Programme is beginning to impact on trafficking routes. The AIRCOP component, implemented by UNODC in collaboration with the World Customs Organization (WCO) and INTERPOL, has established Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs)   at airports in Panama and the Dominican Republic. More JAITFs are about to be formed in Jamaica, while Barbados ,  El Salvador and Brazil are expected to join  the project in the near future. AIRCOP beneficiary countries  are provided with training, equipment and mentoring. Most valuable, perhaps, is linking each of the JAITFs to the entire network, with access to WCO’s CENcomm platform, and INTERPOL’s I-24/7, allowing for the real time exchange of  information on the movement of suspicious passengers and cargo.

Following a string of seizures in Panama the project made its first arrest at Aeropuerto Internacional de Las Américas in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic,  on 2 of June 2015,  a national of Curacao was intercepted on the way to Brussels carrying 64 pellets of cocaine, raising questions about the proliferation of routes and networks. It confirms the continuing dynamic of intra-regional movement, with traffickers continuously looking for new springboards for carrying cargo to the most lucrative retail markets. The case underlines the need for international cooperation, as well as ongoing criminal and financial investigations. As transnational criminal groups are adapting their modus operandi law enforcement has to probe deeper into organizational structures, recruitment processes and the mobilization and investment of the proceeds of crime. For these kinds of sustained investigations the seizures at the airport create a prime opportunity.