CAPE TOWN, South Africa – In a bid to tackle the illicit drug trade head-on, 400 experts from 100 countries representing anti-narcotics agencies, international and regional organizations have called for increased information sharing and cooperation via INTERPOL.
Underlining an ever-increasing presence of synthetic drugs and the sophistication with which organized crime groups are operating, the second INTERPOL Global Conference on Illicit Drugs focused on existing and emerging concealment methods, trends and routes, and the convergence with other activities such as money laundering, financial crime and cybercrime.
The three-day (17 – 19 September) conference was hosted in close collaboration with the South African Police Service.
In his opening remarks, South Africa’s Police Minister Bheki Cele said the world needed a proactive approach in the war against drugs.
“Our communities are at the grip of those who use drugs, those who sell drugs and those who produce them, and our communities have had enough. As the men and women of the law, we must be a step ahead of syndicates and drug cartels,” Mr Cele told delegates at the conference.
Kim Jong Yang, President of INTERPOL, said: “The landscape of the global illicit drug trade is complex, rapidly evolving and facilitated by technology such as encrypted communications software and the darknet. It is said, ‘the best way out of a problem is through’, and we will achieve success with the determined resolve of all law enforcement.”
As part of its conclusions, participants recognized the importance of INTERPOL’s global policing capabilities, including I-24/7, its secure communications system, its Drugs Analysis File and capacity building programmes. The Relief database was also highlighted as a key tool to identify the origin and routes of compressed drug deliveries and shipments through an automated comparative analysis of the tool-marks, logos and chemical compositions of drug packages.
Sharing intelligence, building investigative capacity
With enhanced information sharing central to prevention and investigation efforts, delegates examined case studies from around the world, which consistently pointed to new, transnational interactions between organized crime groups.
As a global, neutral platform, INTERPOL is uniquely placed to work with its 194 member countries and make connections that might otherwise take months, or even years.
INTERPOL recently deployed an Incident Response Team (IRT) to Guinea Bissau, in response to one of the country’s largest ever cocaine seizures. The IRT focused on forensic drug analysis via INTERPOL’s Relief database, in addition to coordinating investigative leads with Brazil and Colombia, and extracting electronic data for analysis.
Since January, INTERPOL has deployed six specialized teams at the request of national authorities, showing the increased number of seizures globally and the need for international cooperation.