AIRCOP strengthens interdiction capacity at international airports in the Sahel

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Thanks to precise targeting, the JAITF in Niger was able to seize over 9 kilograms of gold (in bars) from a passenger, as well as 500,000 undeclared Euros from a second passenger, travelling on a different flight. These record seizures occurred within one week, on 27 and 30 October 2016.

Then, on 21 November 2016, the JAITF was again able to intercept USD 37,000 at the airport. These seizures showcase successful exchange of information to counter illicit trafficking, while also signalling that JAITFs are well organized and efficient units, capable of handling missions that go beyond countering exclusively drug trafficking.

The Airport Communication Programme (AIRCOP) has unique expertise in air border controls, and has provided extensive training to the task forces, composed of law enforcement officials from Police, Customs, Immigration, Gendarmerie and airport authorities. Since their establishments, the JAITFs have succeeded in countering drug trafficking, notably in Mali (Bamako Airport), since late 2014 and Niger (Niamey Airport), since June 2015.

Gold bars seized by the Niamey JAITF in October 2016
Gold bars seized by the Niamey JAITF in October 2016

Enhancing real time cooperation and exchange of operational information between international airports in Africa is the driving force behind the JAITFs, established under the UNODC Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP). This project is funded by the European Union, co-funded by Japan and Norway, and unites the efforts of the World Customs Organization (WCO), INTERPOL and UNODC. Cooperation between authorities in Africa is also enhanced through the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP), launched in 2003, which has enabled authorities of participating States to seize over 36 metric tons of cocaine and 26 metric tons of cannabis in the last 10 years.

Part of the 500,000 euros seized in October 2016
Part of the 500,000 euros seized in October 2016

These results are a testimony of the work put in place by the JAITFs in the last few years. For 2016 alone, the JAITF in Niamey was able to seize 114 fake Nigerien Passports, a total of over USD 139,000 and over 9 kilograms of gold. Overall, maintaining such collaboration will remain key for JAITFs to achieve similar results in the future, not only in Niamey, but also in Bamako and beyond.