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21 July 2008

Guinea Bissau requests INTERPOL assistance following major drugs seizure

An INTERPOL Incident Response Team (IRT) has been deployed to Guinea Bissau to assist the national authorities following the seizure of a plane believed to have been carrying a significant amount of cocaine at the country’s main airport.

Following a request from the Guinea Bissau Ministry of Justice, a three -person team comprising officers from the Drugs and Criminal Organizations unit, the Command and Co-ordination Centre and the INTERPOL Sub-Regional Bureau in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, will provide support to the National Central Bureau and other national law enforcement agencies in Bissau where the aircraft is being held.

In recent years there has been growing evidence of West Africa becoming a favoured transit point for cocaine being smuggled to Europe, with a number of large seizures recorded throughout the region.

To support member countries in combating this traffic, in 2006 INTERPOL launched Project COCAF (Cocaine Trafficking from Western Africa to Europe) to facilitate information sharing and to assist frontline police and customs officers in targeting suspected couriers and favoured trafficking routes.

Information provided to the IRT in Bissau on this latest seizure will be analysed to help officers identify potential links with known individuals and groups involved in smuggling.

In 2007, INTERPOL deployed IRTs to Guinea Bissau and Mauritania to provide on-site assistance after major drugs seizures and in February this year, an IRT was requested by Liberia after 2.5 tonnes of cocaine were discovered on a boat off the West African coast.