Controlled deliveries by the JAITF in Argentina – a highlight of AIRCOP activities in 2019

As described by the United Nations Convention Against Organised Crime, a controlled delivery is a special investigation technique allowing suspicious shipments or cargo to leave, pass through or enter a jurisdiction with the knowledge and supervision of authorities with a view to the investigation of an offence and the identification of persons involved in the commission of the offence. This tool is particularly effective in the case of illicit drug trafficking.

Outstanding examples of controlled delivery in 2019

A controlled delivery operation was initiated in June 2019 by the JAITF at Ezeiza International Airport, in collaboration with the Argentinean customs department (AFIP) and law enforcement officers (PSA) and judges from Argentina, Spain, Portugal and Cabo Verde. As a result, the sender of a shipment containing 3.1 kg of cocaine was arrested on 7 October 2019. The intercepted drugs, found concealed in a steel cylinder, were replaced by Argentinean authorities, with a non-toxic substitute, and the consignment continued on its way to Cabo Verde, via Spain and Portugal. The initial operation resulted in the arrest of two individuals in Cabo Verde which led to the capture of the sender.

Another example relates to an operation conducted with Belgian authorities who flagged a suspicious rocking horse destined for Argentina. In the toy was concealed a large quantity of metamphetamines. The Belgian authorities informed their Argentinean counterparts and replaced the drug with a non-toxic substitute. As a result, three houses were raided in Buenos Aires: six suspects were arrested and 48 kg of Ketamine were seized.


Why does it matter?

The cases above are important as they demonstrate the positive outcomes of international cooperation and coordination as well as the importance of building a network of officers, supported by secure communication systems, to detect, communicate and eventually disrupt both the sending and receiving drug trafficking organisations involved. These examples are also emblematic as they show that illicit flows are not one-way. The first one implied a flow from Latin America to Europe via West Africa, but the second one implied a shipment from Europe to Latin America. Last but not least, those examples stress that cocaine is not the only commodity being trafficked.

The AIRCOP network and the JAITF in Argentina

AIRCOP has been designed to set up and expand a network of secured Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs) dedicated to the fight against illicit trafficking and terrorism by air. Today, there are 25 active JAITFs, which are parts of an overall AIRCOP network of 40 airports of 35 countries.

Argentina has been part of the AIRCOP network for 4 years. The JAITF at the Ezeiza International Airport was established under AIRCOP II and has been operational since December 2016. The JAITF is composed of representatives from different law enforcement agencies whose mandates include the fight against illicit trafficking and in particular illicit drug trafficking. The JAITF has also taken part in a number of international operations together with other international partners and other AIRCOP-supported JAITFs.

Argentina has been a long-standing partner of the Cocaine Route Programme, now Global Illicit Flows Programme, and has taken part in different initiatives such as the GAFILAT-EU and PRELAC (now completed). Argentina is also a SEACOP partner country.