Malian airport authorities seize cocaine from Latin America


On 25 December 2016, the Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) in Bamako seized 900 grams of cocaine from Latin America. The load had therefore travelled along the 'cocaine route' (from South America to Europe via West Africa). The Airport Communication Programme (AIRCOP) is designed specifically to fight against the existence and proliferation of such networks.

This seizure followed larger ones carried out in October and November 2016 at Niamey airport. More than 9 kilograms of gold (in bars), 500,000 euros and 37,000 USD were seized within one month by members of the Nigerien JAITF.

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. Enhancing real time cooperation and exchange of operational information between international airports in Africa is the driving force behind the JAITFs. 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.

The Bamako Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) that seized the drugs
The Bamako Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) that seized the drugs

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.

These specialized border control units, now established at the international airports of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, as well as in the dry port of Bamako, will soon be linked to the security architecture of the G5 Sahel. This organization, which brings together Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, was established in 2014 to promote, among other things, security cooperation between (and within) the five Sahelian countries.

The UNODC Sahel Programme has built up a close partnership with the G5 Sahel to ensure regional ownership of UNODC initiatives and to support capacity-building efforts in the criminal justice system of the region.