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20 June 2007 - Media release

INTERPOL issues Red Notice for suspected drug trafficker

LYON, France – INTERPOL has issued an international wanted persons notice for Sidi Mohamed Ould Haidalla, who is sought by Mauritania for drug trafficking following the country’s largest-ever cocaine seizure.

Haidalla is thought to have been the intended recipient of a 629-kilogram shipment of cocaine seized in the country last month, the latest in a series which points to the emergence of a new bulk cocaine smuggling route from South America to Africa.

INTERPOL hosted a meeting of law enforcement officials from nine countries at its General Secretariat on 8 June to share intelligence towards the identification of Haidalla’s foreign accomplices. A Red Notice was issued for him following the meeting.

‘This Red Notice will significantly hinder Haidalla’s ability to cross borders to continue his crimes,’ said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble. ‘We hope the Red Notice and Haidalla’s notoriety as being behind the largest cocaine seizure ever recorded in Mauritania will lead to his swift capture.’

The seizure suggests a new drug threat in West Africa. Although the primary destinations for cocaine smuggled from South America to Africa are European markets, there are concerns of a ‘spillover’ effect in countries where the cocaine is stockpiled while awaiting delivery to Europe.

The cocaine seized in Mauritania had been transported from Venezuela aboard a propeller plane modified with auxiliary fuel tanks that extended the aircraft’s normal range. The drugs were abandoned at the end of the runway at the airport in Nouadhibou after the pilots of the aircraft abruptly took off upon noticing an approaching vehicle. The abandoned plane was found approximately 125 kilometers from the airport.

INTERPOL provided operational assistance to Mauritania immediately following the seizure, deploying an Incident Response Team (IRT) to the country to assist authorities with the investigation. Mauritanian authorities destroyed boxes of the seized cocaine on a beach in the presence of members of the INTERPOL team on 16 May.