On 16 March 2015 a joint UNODC – European Union delegation visited the new Canine Unit of AIRCOP Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) in Praia. The Kennel is situated within the Cabo Verdean Judicial Police Headquarters compound, with whom the Praia JAITF is affiliated, close to the Praia International Airport. The Canine Unit is fully operational since March and will be deployed daily in the capital’s airport.
UNODC, the Italian Central Anti-Drugs Directorate (Direzione Centrale dei Servizi Antidroga–DCSA) and the Italian Guardia di Finanza created synergies to allow the training of this new Canine Unit in support of the AIRCOP Cabo Verde JAITF.
The complex and highly specialized training for dogs and dog handlers on drug search and detection was organized between September 2014 and February 2015 at the Centre of Postgraduate Training in Perugia, Italy. Two officers from the Cabo Verde JAITF completed the training and subsequently returned with the three dogs donated by Italy. This 6-month training represented a unique opportunity to enhance the country’s drug interdiction capacity and acquire a crucial detection tool: drug detection dogs. These are highly effective in the operational activities of many border police forces in the world, including those from USA, Canada, UK, France or Italy.
UNODC also organized three mentorships, in addition to specialized training on cargo and postal examinations, behavioral profiling and documentary fraud. Two officers from the Praia JAITF went to Brazil as part of an exchange program during the first week of the 2014 football World Cup, with the objective of learning from the Brazilian experience in the fight against drug trafficking by air. Cabo Verde further participated in WCO-led COCAIR II, III and IV operations implemented in the framework of AIRCOP project.
All these capacity building efforts proved to be successful. The Cabo Verdean JAITF realized 19 drugs seizures to date, for a total weight of 36.5 Kg of cocaine
Cabo Verdean authorities decided to join the AIRCOP project in December 2009 and the Task Force became fully operational in June 2011, when the 15 members of the JAITF, selected from Judicial Police, National Police and Customs, were appointed and trained. Since 2013, the DCSA has been providing highly qualified expertise to AIRCOP beneficiary countries such as Ghana, Cabo Verde, Senegal, Mali and Gambia. Such knowledge and skills are contributing to enhancing the drug interdiction capacity of several international airports in West Africa.
Since its creation, the AIRCOP project has trained 809 officials, including 121 women, through 48 training and mentoring activities and joint operations. 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.