A Conference on Air and Maritime Cocaine Trafficking in the Caribbean basin has been co-hosted in Martinique (French West Indies) by Europol and the French Central Direction for the Judiciary Police (DCPJ) on 26-28 November 2013. The conference took place in Fort de France, where the local branch of the French national office against drugs trafficking (OCRTIS) is located. OCRTIS has spearheaded the use of European cooperation tools to fight cocaine trafficking in the Atlantic. The conference was opened by Mr Michel Quillé, Europol Deputy Director, and Mr Frederic Veaux, Deputy Head of the DCPJ.
Driven by the concerns and risks to EU stability and security, thrown up by major organised crime groups involved in cocaine smuggling, the conference drew participants from 11 countries*, 4 partner organisations (Interpol, AMERIPOL, MAOC-N and JIATFS-S), as well as representatives from EU projects such as AIRCOP, SEACOP and AMERIPOL-EU. The aim of the event was to facilitate and enhance the exchange of information and international cooperation to disrupt major international organised crime groups active in the region.
The conference agenda covered a wide variety of subjects, including the delivery of national, regional and international overviews, key EU tools, current and future projects, legislation, main limitations and opportunities for law enforcement cooperation. The prominent role of on-the-spot liaison officers was also touched on. Roundtables on day two covered particular themes such as international cooperation and the trafficking of cocaine using leisure boats, containers and aircraft. Expert presentations helped participants to understand current issues in the key area of the Caribbean basin.
In between South America, the USA, West Africa and Europe, the area is used as a ‘hub’ or transit point in the routes to the different major drug markets. Strongly impacted by drug trafficking, the Caribbean basin concentrates huge efforts and investments made by European Union Member States. In order to increase the identification, prevention and tackling of such serious crime, France considers Europol a remarkable tool for facilitating the exchange of criminal intelligence and coordinating Member States’ operations.
The creation of partnerships, strategic and operational agreements in the South American/Caribbean area, and the commitment of European countries who are key players in the region, will help to prioritise the gathering of information and coordination of joint actions, to ultimately increase their impact and results.
* Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Germany, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States of America.