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06 December 2011

Panama hosts first INTERPOL programme to boost fight against drugs and organized crime in Americas

PANAMA CITY, Panama – The first session of a three-year programme coordinated by INTERPOL to boost national law enforcement’s ability to fight drugs and organized crime across the Americas has opened in Panama.

The two week course (5-16 December), organized by INTERPOL’s Capacity Building and Training Directorate, brings together 17 law enforcement officials from different enforcement agencies from nine countries (Barbados, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, El Salvador, Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama and Saint Lucia) involved in transnational investigations against illicit drugs and organized crime.

Opening the programme, Panama’s Public Security Minister, Jose Raul Mulino Quintero, underlined Panama’s strategic role in the region against transnational crime.

“By choosing Panama to host the first session of this programme, INTERPOL has recognized our efforts to strengthen international police cooperation in the region. This is all the more important because Panama’s strategic geographic location means it faces the challenge of major illicit drug trafficking and organized crime in the region. INTERPOL can therefore count on Panama as a strong partner to fight organized crime,” said Minister Mulino Quintero.

With the programme sponsored by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), Canadian Ambassador to Panama Sylvia Cesaratto and other senior officials attending the launch of its first session heard that the need for training to be a central strategic part of police activities was essential in developing the effectiveness of law enforcement to operate nationally and internationally.

“The challenges facing law enforcement in the 21st century require a systematic, coherent and sustained global training strategy, and as the world’s largest police organization, INTERPOL plays a key part in this development,” said INTERPOL’s Director of Training, Dale Sheehan.

“INTERPOL’s Capacity Building and Training Programme for the Americas will boost the strategic and operational ability of agencies in participating countries to counter illicit drugs and organized crime, under the coordination of INTERPOL’s National Central Bureaus in the region,” added Mr Sheehan.

The aim of this first phase of the three-year INTERPOL Capacity Building Programme on Organized Crime for the Americas (covering Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico and neighbouring countries) includes:

  • increasing knowledge of the characteristics of organized crime, the trafficking of illicit drugs and chemical precursors, and related criminal activities such as corruption and money laundering
  • equipping participants with the skills needed for the use of legal tools and awareness of the operational aspects of international cooperation and mutual assistance
  • enhancing the awareness and usage of INTERPOL’s tools and services
  • facilitating transnational collaboration between specialized units and National Central Bureaus

Agencies represented at the opening ceremony also included the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) and the World Customs Organization.

As part of a combined approach the programme will be run bilingually in Spanish and English, with all participants contributing their professional knowledge in core subjects.  Participants include drugs and organized crime investigators from specialized law enforcement agencies, customs officials, and INTERPOL National Central Bureau officials involved in police communications.