AIRCOP: European Union, Canada, Japan, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, INTERPOL and World Customs Organization partnership to strengthen airport controls against illicit trafficking and terrorism

SAO PAULO/VIENNA, 4 April (UN Information Service) – Airport law enforcement experts from around the world met today in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for a three-day discussion on enhancing detection and interdiction capacity at international airports to counter emerging threats posed by illicit trafficking and suspicious passengers, and to support the fight against transnational organized crime and terrorism.

The 5th Global Meeting of the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP), which covers 37 airports in 33 countries, takes place from 4 to 6 April. The meeting is organized by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) with the support of the Brazilian Federal Police and brings together Government representatives and law enforcement experts from 44 countries in North and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Japan as well as from relevant international organizations such as the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

In his welcome address, Disney Rosseti, Regional Superintendent of the Federal Police in Sao Paulo said: “Combating drug trafficking is not a choice, but an increasingly need, to seek social peace and a society free from the scourge of organized crime.”

Amado Philip de Andrés, UNODC Regional Representative for Central America and the Caribbean, said: “AIRCOP began in 2010 with eight countries and has since expanded to 33 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East, with a potential to further expand to other regions. AIRCOP contributes to implementing UN Drug Control Conventions as well as UN Security Council Resolutions 2309(2016), 2178(2014), through assisting Member States to counter the world drug problem and criminal activities, as well as to deter travel of suspicious passengers and threats posed to civil aviation.”

Claudia Gintersdorfer, Deputy Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Brazil, said: “AIRCOP is part of the EU Cocaine Route Programme, a concerted effort by the European Union and its partners to staunch the flow of illicit goods and facilitate communication and cooperation of criminal investigators and prosecutors. Since 2009, the EU has committed over €50 million to the programme in over 40 countries with a focus on transnational organized crime and drug trafficking in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe.”

The meeting promotes experience and best practice sharing in the fight against illicit trafficking via air routes, and in strengthening airport controls. AIRCOP aims to prevent the flow of illicit goods, and to detect and enhance screening of high-risk passengers at selected international airports through real-time exchange of operational information, as well as through the establishment, training and mentoring of inter-service Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs).

Since its launch in 2010, the AIRCOP project has trained 2,426 law enforcement officials, including 499 women, through 143 training and mentoring actions and joint operations. AIRCOP JAITFs have thus far seized 2,897 kg of cocaine, 1,156 kg of cannabis, 326 kg of heroin, 549 kg methamphetamine, 1,397 kg of counterfeit medicines and 541 kg of ivory, US$ 6.5 million, as well as fake passports and ammunitions, resulting in 788 seizures and leading to over 800 arrests.

Brazil is a key associate partner of the AIRCOP Project following the signature of a cooperation agreement between AIRCOP and the Brazilian International Programme for Police Cooperation in Airports (INTERCOPS). Guarulhos, in Sao Paulo, remains the airport with the largest number of cocaine seizures worldwide as shown by World Customs Organization (WCO) CENcomm data of 1,047 kg of drugs (87 per cent cocaine) and 199 passengers arrested of which 68 per cent were heading for Africa, principally Nigeria and South Africa in 2016 – 2017.

The AIRCOP Project is funded by the European Union, Japan, Canada, Norway, and the US, and is implemented by UNODC in partnership with the World Customs Organization (WCO) and INTERPOL.