News Briefing – Week of 7 March

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the European Union and International Police (INTERPOL) have jointly launched a Euro 1.3-million programme to fight money laundering. INTERPOL will support investigative capacity building of law enforcement agencies in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Region in the area of financial crimes at national and international levels.

According to the African Political and Economic Strategic Intelligence (AFRIPOL), drug trafficking in Nigeria is helping finance Boko Haram, the terrorist movement operating in Chad, Niger and Cameroon. According to a report, Boko Haram taxes weapons traffickers and in exchange provides them with logistical support to transport heroin and cocaine shipments to Calabar and Port Harcourt in Nigeria.

Former governor of the Jigawa state in Nigeria, Sue Lamido, is facing trial on a count of 27 criminal charges including corruption, money laundering, breach of trust and illegal diversion of public funds.

A Frenchman allegedly involved in the cocaine smuggling case named “Air Cocaine” in the Dominican Republic, was denied freedom on bail as, according to the Dominican attorney general, he poses a serious flight risk. The man is suspected of helping two French pilots, who were first arrested in the Dominican Republic in 2013, to flee to France.

Belgian federal prosecutors are seeking to bring to court seven pharmaceutical executives accused of supplying a Mexican drug baron with the key ingredients for crystal meth. The buyer is believed to be Mexico’s Ezio Figueroa Vasquez, described in 2012 by the US Treasury as a major international drug trafficker.

Argentinean foreign minister Susana Malcorra visited Bolivia where she met president Evo Morales in order to discuss issues related to drug trafficking. The main topics debated in the meeting were the improvement and monitoring of border passes, given the significance of the fight against drug trafficking.

Two men were arrested in Amsterdam  in connection to an organisation trafficking cocaine. Following the arrest, the Dutch authorities confiscated a car and searched a house used by the men as headquarters for their activities. During the search, the police found 100 kg of cocaine destined for the Dutch market.

Following further investigations and several interrogations, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was charged with money laundering accusation. A conviction could result in a prison term of 13 years. Moreover, there are charges and accusations that he accepted free work on his home in exchange for political favors and benefits.

Colombia dismantled an international money laundering network with the arrest of 13 suspects, including five flight attendants of Avianca Airlines. The detainees were part of an organisation which used to transport to Colombia dollars and euros illegally obtained from Spain, the United States, Mexico and elsewhere.

Belgian authorities have allegedly found 3 tonnes of cocaine in a shipment of bananas coming from Colombia. The seizure took place at Antwerp port.