From October to November 2019, the SEACOP project will organise three training sessions in Dakar for customs officers, police officers and gendarmes assigned to the JMCUs (Joint Maritime Control Units) based in Cotonou (Benin), Lomé (Togo) and Dakar (Senegal). The trainings will strengthen the JMCUs capacity to fight transnational organised crime and the illicit trafficking of narcotics by sea.
From 21 to 25 October, the first training will be organised on the search of ships. From 18 to 22 November, the second training will target the control of marine containers. From 9 to 13 December, the third training will be dedicated to the collection and analysis of intelligence in port environment. In 2020, these three areas of expertise will be deepened through follow-up mentoring sessions.
In recent months, the Dakar-based JMCU has achieved concrete results, conducting three successful cocaine seizures. On 26 June, following intelligence gathering, 238 kilos of the drug were seized from five new vehicles being transported aboard a RORO (Roll-on/roll-off) vessel from the port of Santos, Brazil. Three days later, another 798 kilos of cocaine were seized in fifteen new vehicles being transported aboard a similar vessel, also coming from Brazil. Finally, on 14 August, four additional kilos of cocaine that were most likely abandoned by traffickers after the first seizure were reported to the JMCU. In total, more than a tonne of cocaine was seized in the port of Dakar, which made international headlines.
These seizures, in addition to the 1.8 tonnes of cocaine seized in Guinea Bissau and the 2.2 tonnes seized in Cape Verde, confirm West Africa as a “rebound” zone for cocaine being trafficked from South America towards Europe.
The SEACOP project seeks to build capacities and strengthen cooperation against maritime drug trafficking within the Cocaine Route Programme. It supports the setup of JMCUs in selected ports and coastal areas in West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, along the trans-Atlantic cocaine route. SEACOP also provides search and intelligence training, along with equipment and necessary IT tools.