Project Compass

Improved investigations of maritime-based crimes in the East and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region.

Project Compass

Timeframe: 2020-2023

Budget: USD 3.5 million

Donor: United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)


Trafficking, piracy and other maritime crimes remain a threat to peace and stability across the East Africa, Southern Africa and Indian Ocean (EA-SA-IO) region.

In addition to the security implications, these illicit activities damage the socio-economic and political conditions in the region.

A collaborative and multilateral approach, bringing together regional governments and international organizations, is needed in order to combat these threats.

About the Project

The overall goal of Project Compass is to improve investigations into maritime-based crimes in the EA-SA-IO region. The project will focus on Comoros, Djibouti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa and Tanzania.

The project’s three objectives are to improve:

  • crime scene preservation and management capabilities;
  • interagency cooperation between the first responders, investigators, and justice sector officials in complex, maritime based crime cases;
  • regional and international cooperation.

Project activities

The Project will deliver the following activities to support the objectives:


  • An introduction to the international methodologies of crime scene preservation and management.
  • Intelligence analysis techniques that will assist beneficiary countries to expand the focus of their investigations and prosecutions beyond the frontline perpetrators attacking the vessels at sea, to the organizers and financiers on land.

Mock crime scenes and trials:

  • INTERPOL experts create scenarios, based on real cases that occurred in the region, and provide “evidence” for first responders, law enforcement officials and prosecutors to practise the application of the law.

Exchange visits and case coordination meetings:

  • Officials from beneficiary countries work side by side with their colleagues in other countries and discuss cases of common interest or concern.

These activities will contribute to building national and regional networks of experts who are better equipped to exchange maritime-related information and to conduct successful maritime crime investigations and prosecutions.

Project updates

November 2022
Arrest of drug trafficking kingpin

Coordinated law enforcement action led to the arrest of the head of a multinational criminal organization, who was wanted internationally. The Nigerian national had fled Brazil following the seizure of 4.9 tons of cocaine worth hundreds of millions of dollars at the port of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in October 2021.

Just over a year later, a Red Notice was issued against the suspect following investigations conducted by the Brazilian Federal Police in partnership with INTERPOL (Projects Agwe, Compass and Port Security) and the US Drug Enforcement Agency. The suspect was found to be moving quickly across different countries in the Caribbean.

Swift action ensued among law enforcement agencies in multiple countries. Among them, the Immigration Services in Barbados, the INTERPOL Liaison Office for the Caribbean, and INTERPOL National Central Bureaus in Brazil, Barbados, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and Panama.

Less than 48 hours after publication of the Red notice, the individual was located while in transit in Barbados and escorted back to Brazil to face justice.

September 2022
Investigative support and mentoring session

In response to specific cases of transnational organized crime across the Western Indian Ocean, a team from two INTERPOL projects (Port Security Project and Project Compass) jointly delivered a mentoring session to officers in the Seychelles. The team provided investigative advice and analytical support in order to identify suspects and uncover further details about the criminal networks involved.

This is just one in a series of such mentoring sessions carried out over the past two years in beneficiary countries. As well as helping to move cases forward, the sessions also serve to bolster officers’ knowledge and skills and to embed sustainable practices within national law enforcement agencies.

Investigative support and mentoring session, Seychelles, September 2022
Investigative support and mentoring session, Seychelles, September 2022

April 2022
Crime Scene Investigation Training in Seychelles

Project Compass with support from the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and the Seychelles authorities delivered a training course (25-29 April 2022)  on crime scene preservation and management. Amongst other topics, this training provided essential skills and knowledge related to evidence preservation, including maintaining chain of custody and compliance to ensure  the admissibility of evidence.  This course reinforced first response efforts and encouraged information sharing among countries in the East Africa, Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region.

Crime Scene Investigation Training in Seychelles

November-December 2021
Training in Mauritius

Two training courses – one on crime scene investigation and one on instructor development – were delivered jointly by Projects AGWE and Compass in Mauritius, with support from the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and the Mauritian authorities. These courses will reinforce first response efforts and information sharing among countries in the East and West Africa, Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region.