News Briefing – Week of 8 February

Barbados is now better equipped to fight transnational organised crime and boost its drug interdiction capacities following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation of AIRCOP.

An INTERPOL operation named “Operation Adwenpa” to strengthen border controls along the Abidjan-Lagos corridor has resulted in major seizures of drugs, stolen cars, currency, firearms and fake travel documents, in addition to arrests for migrant smuggling. A Ghanaian using counterfeit travel documents was arrested. Nearly 900 kg of narcotics were seized including cocaine, cannabis, methamphetamine and khat. Searches against INTERPOL’s database of stolen motor vehicles led to the recovery of seven vehicles which had been stolen in Canada, France, Germany and Italy.

The families of a number of US nationals killed in Mexico in crimes related to drug trafficking have sued giant HSBC for permitting cartels to launder huge amounts of illicit money through the bank. This case could have major implications for how accomplices of the drug trade are prosecuted in the US.

During his first official visit to Mexico, Pope Francis has called on the government to fight corruption and to take a more active stand against the drug trade in the country, which he said “devours like a metastasis.”

One-hundred nine people have been arrested during an anti-Mafia operation in eastern Sicily. Those detained are alleged members of the Laudani Mafia clan – considered one of the most dangerous gangs on the Italian island. They are charged with running extortion rackets, drug trafficking, illegal weapons possession and other crimes.

A police officer working in the South African harbour of Durban has reportedly been arrested at Hong Kong international airport on suspicion of drug trafficking. The Kwazulu-Natal police spokesperson declared she has immediately been suspended and an investigation has started.

Officers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) arrested a woman at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, after they discovered she had ingested 80 wraps of cocaine, weighing almost 1 kg. According to the woman, the drug was brought from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and had Djeddah, Saudi Arabia, as final destination.

INTERPOL’s 23rd African Regional Conference took place in Brazzaville, Congo, on 8-10 February. The main themes discussed in the event concerned terrorism, drug trafficking, people smuggling, cybercrime and cooperation between INTERPOL and regional police bodies.

A Venezuelan woman was arrested at the Katunayake airport in Sri Lanka and has been admitted to hospital after she swallowed cocaine. The woman was arrested by the staff of the Customs Narcotics Unit after she arrived from Brazil via Dubai. She has allegedly swallowed 87 pellets of cocaine weighing more than 500g.