According to the World Customs Organisation’s 2017 Illicit Trade Report, the cocaine trade grew by some 16.2% in 2017. The customs authorities of 105 countries reported that, of all seizures of smuggled drugs, 13.8% involved cocaine.

The World Customs Organisation (WCO) and the European Union (EU) join forces to tackle the challenge represented by organised crime in Latin America and Caribbean, Western and Central Africa.

The new COLIBRI project, implemented within the framework of the Cocaine Route Programme funded by the EU, targets specifically General Aviation (GA), a vector that concerns all the operations of civil aviation for purposes other than commercial transport.

Although most civil airports are open to GA, many secondary aerodromes are not subject to administration fees, landing or parking charges, operating restrictions or controls. Moreover, general aviation is not subject to the same police or customs inspection mechanisms, and flight security measures are substantially relaxed, even in highly regulated areas. This means that GA represents an opportunity for organized crime, and offers a number of advantages to traffickers. This is a discreet, fast mode of transport, which can use smaller airports where the law enforcement agencies are often absent.

The COLIBRI Project is conceived to help tackling the challenge of improving security in this specific channel, which is sensitive in both trafficking and security terms, as well as for tax reasons.