Newsbriefing – Week of 13 January


Illegal landing strips in Venezuela are proliferating under the control of the ELN, the FARC and the EPL, also known as the “Los Pelusos”. Utilised to move drugs and the pre-cursor chemicals that support cocaine production, the issue of clandestine airstrips is a growing concern. Fueling parallel and illicit economies and underpinned by corruption and extortion involving armed groups and sometimes localised police forces, illegal landing strips are providing criminal organisations yet another means for avoiding detection.

80 kg of cocaine was found and seized in a cargo plane at the Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The plane was destined for  Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Seven suspects were arrested and the investigation remains ongoing.

The issue of falsified medicine in Africa has become critical following reports of an increase in the number of associated deaths that has fostered a lack of public confidence  in African health systems. Recognising this worrying threat to national security, brought about by well structured and organised criminal groups, the Lomé initiative will bring together The Gambia, Ghana, Niger, the Republic of Congo, Senegal, Togo, and Uganda to sign a political declaration and legally binding agreement committing each country to introducing legislation to tackle this national and international problem.

439 kg of heroin was found and seized on board a ship in Rotterdam that had left Pakistan in late December 2019. The drug was concealed beneath a shipment of talc. The investigation remains ongoing.

The United States of America has pledged to invest $5bn in Colombia, especially within the regions affected most by illicit cocaine trafficking so as to support private sector development and curtail cocaine production. However, the US may not yet support the PNIS programme, a programme established as part of the 2016 Peace agreement that  promotes crop substitution. This comes about because the US still considers that the FARC has active members and still considers the organisation to be a terrorist organisation.