AIRCOP Task Force in Niamey, Niger assists in the seizure of 2,5 tons of cannabis
The Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF), established in Niger as part of the AIRCOP project, was instrumental in the seizure of almost 2,5 tons of cannabis in a suburb of Niamey, Niger, on 13 June 2018. This is, to date, the largest single AIRCOP seizure since the beginning of the project in 2010.
In April 2018, the Office Central de Répression du Trafic International de Stupéfiants (OCTRIS - in English: Central Office for the Fight Against International Drug Trafficking), received information that a large network of drug traffickers particularly active in West Africa was increasing its presence in Niger, using the country as a transit point between the Maghreb and Europe.
Following this lead, many potential hiding spots were identified in Niamey, and 4 potential traffickers were arrested at Niamey Diori Hamani International Airport by the JAITF. The suspects soon revealed that a very large shipment of cannabis was being sent from Morocco to be stored in a Niamey suburb, and that this shipment had been stolen by another criminal organization, which would prompt the traffickers who "owned" the shipment to head to Niger.
Five of them were subsequently targeted and identified by UNODC-trained JAITF agents upon their arrival at Niamey airport, and were then tracked around the city. This surveillance enabled the JAITF agents to locate their hiding grounds and hand over the investigation to the OCTRIS, the JAITF's parent organization. The 2 month-long investigation revealed that almost 2,5 tons of cannabis were hidden in the apartment identified by the JAITF (reaching an overall street value of 3 billion of CFA francs (EUR 4.750.000).
OCTRIS and the AIRCOP Task Force were highly praised by the Minister of State for Interior, Public Safety, Decentralization and Customary and Religious Affairs, H.E. Mr Abdou Labo.
AIRCOP in Niger is implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in partnership with INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO), and thanks to the support from the European Union (as part of the Cocaine Route Programme). It aims at strengthening the capacities of international airports to detect and intercept drugs, other illicit goods and high-risk passengers (including foreign terrorist fighters), in countries of origin, transit and destination. AIRCOP also promotes intelligence and information sharing between services at national and international levels, as well as an intelligence-led approach to countering drug trafficking and other types of threats.
Niger's OCTRIS and its "Service Central de Lutte contre le Terrorisme et la Criminalité Transnationale Organisée" (SCLCT/CTO) have been key UNODC partners in Niger, and have participated to numerous UNODC training workshops organized in the framework of its Sahel Programme, since its launch in 2014.
The JAITF at Niamey Diori Hamani International Airport was established in 2014 and has, since then, seized more than 8 kg of cocaine, 3 kg of methamphetamine, 120 kg of gold, 2 kg of ammunition, 114 stolen or fraudulent identification documents and more than 2 million of undeclared US dollars.