Central Africa new drug transit hub: Interpol

October 26, 2012

Bloomberg Businessweek on October 26, 2012 released the following:

“By Divine Ntaryike

DOUALA, Cameroon (AP) — The arrest of a Nigerian allegedly smuggling heroin here highlights what officials say is a growing problem of drug trafficking in Central Africa.

Egboka Ikechukwu, 28, appeared in court in Douala, Cameroon’s economic hub, Thursday to respond to charges of cross-border drug trafficking.

Ikechukwu was arrested Tuesday night by police at Douala International Airport shortly after arriving on a Kenya Airways flight. He has been formally charged with the possession of 7 kilograms (15 pounds) of heroin.

“The passenger’s behavior betrayed suspicion which prompted an exhaustive search of his person and luggage by customs agents,” said Customs Subdivision Commander, Gregoire Biloa. “They found three empty carryalls whose stiches had been tampered with to hide the powder which has been tested and confirmed to be heroin.”

Ikechukwu faces up to 10 years imprisonment and fines that could amount to 10 million CFA francs ($20,000), said Biloa.

Speaking to The Associated Press from his jail cell, Ikechukwu denied the charges. He insisted he is a prosperous businessman in Nigeria and he flew to Bujumbura, Burundi via Nairobi, Kenya on October 18 to visit a friend.

“I don’t know who put the drug in my bag. I don’t know whether it’s in my hotel room in Bujumbura that they did this thing to me. In my life, I’ve never pushed drugs before. I don’t know anything about drugs,” said Ikechukwu.

“I’m a businessman. I have my own shop in Nigeria and I’m doing well. I went to Bujumbura to visit my friend and from there; I came back to Cameroon to see one of my friends, that’s all. And now I find myself in all this mess. It’s a setup,” he argued.

Despite his denials, Ikechukwu is one of a growing number of suspected drug traffickers here, according to the state prosecutor and customs and police departments. The arrest is the latest in a steadily swelling series in recent months which show that Cameroon and Central Africa are fast becoming a transit zone and marketplace for South America’s drug cartels, according to Biloa.

There has been a dramatic increase in seizures of cocaine and heroin amounting to hundreds of kilograms, according to data from border police and customs departments at air and sea ports in the sub-region. That is a significant increase from a few grams a couple of years ago.

The neighboring region of West Africa has already become established as a transit point to Europe for South American traffickers, according to a report issued in July by regional Interpol officials. According to them the bulging seizures confirm that Central Africa is not only fast becoming a South American drug passageway, but also a consumption base.

“A few decades ago, it was zero,” Lawrence Tang Enow, Senior Police Superintendent and Interpol Regional Training Officer in Cameroon told AP. “After some time, we started seizing a few grams. Now we got to a situation where last year we seized 140 kilograms (308 pounds) at the Douala International Airport alone.”

Separate Interpol country reports based on police and customs statistics show increased seizures of Europe-bound cocaine and heroin and rising numbers of arrests of peddlers. The South American cartels and their local accomplices turning Central Africa into a stepping stone along their “cocaine route” to Europe by exploiting local weaknesses such as deficient controls at ports, poor traveler inspection equipment, porous land and sea borders and endemic corruption overwhelming security and customs departments, according to Interpol.

In February, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, estimated that cocaine smuggling in West and Central Africa currently generates some $900 million annually, up from $800 million in 2009.

Particularly worrying is the suspected involvement of Al Qaidi in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Nigeria’s Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, who may be involved in trafficking to fund their activities, according to a report published last year by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

“When the drug dealers come in, they influence the politics of countries, criminal activities and corruption. It is a very serious problem,” said Conrad Atefor Ntsefor, official at the Interpol Central Africa Regional Bureau in the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé.

According to him, the wealthy and powerful cartels, whose bank accounts sometimes dwarf the state budgets in some African countries, can easily buy off government officials.

UNODC has warned that Central Africa also risks increased in piracy off its coasts, illegal arms circulation, human trafficking and general instability.

“The fear is that if we don’t act and act in time, this phenomenon will become a serious cankerworm,” Atefor warned.

The Central Africa Regional Interpol Bureau has been working with various country police and customs departments to merge and coordinate intervention strategies, reinforce databases on the movements and activities of suspects and encourage prompt information sharing to facilitate the tracking down of traffickers.

Officials say the work is paying off gradually. “We try to share information, intelligence and better coordinate through our secure communications system. I must admit here that that is what has been the driving force for the arrests of drug traffickers,” Atefor added.

The regional efforts add to periodic crackdowns being jointly organized across West and Central Africa and Latin America by the World Customs Organization, UNODC and Interpol. Between November and December 2011, one operation, staged across 25 airports in West-Central Africa and Brazil, resulted in the arrests of some 50 suspects, the seizure of over 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, guns, counterfeit medicines, ivory and over $3.2 million in cash.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
INTERPOL Red Notice Removal Lawyers Videos:

INTERPOL Notice Removal

INTERPOL’s Red Notice

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call:

           Office Locations

Email:


Italy’s fight against mafia a blueprint against transnational organized crime, INTERPOL Chief tells Palermo meeting

June 11, 2012

INTERPOL on June 11, 2012 released the following:

“PALERMO, Italy ‒ INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has said that global efforts against transnational organized crime can learn from the effective international police cooperation and national resolve which underpin Italy’s on-going struggle against the mafia.

Speaking at the Third Experts Meeting (11-13 June) of the Digest of Organized Crime Cases project, Mr Noble said the initiative provided an important ‘toolbox’ which assisted countries in implementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, signed in Palermo in 2000, by providing them with key best practices in investigative and prosecutorial techniques, as well as in law enforcement cooperation.

With the meeting attended by Italian Senate President Renato Schifani, Italian Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri, President of the Regional Assembly of Sicily Francesco Cascio, Prefect Antonio Manganelli, Chief of the Italian Police and Director General of Public Security of Italy, Director John Sandage of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and members of the Experts’ Group, Mr Noble paid tribute to judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, as well as to the eight Italian police officers and Giovanni Falcone’s wife, Francesca Morvillo, who were killed in Palermo bombings 20 years ago at the hands of the Cosa Nostra.

With tens of thousands of individuals holding public mandates ‒ ministers, members of parliament, police officers and judges ‒ but also journalists, writers, professors and countless ordinary citizens having found the courage to stand up against the Mafia, Mr Noble said: “By demonstrating that its institutions and people are standing as one in facing the Mafia, Italy is setting an example for the world against organized crime.”

Mr Noble recalled how Felicia Impastato dedicated her life to successfully bringing her son’s murderers to justice, as well as President Napolitano’s visit to Sicily this year to celebrate a State funeral for Placido Rizzotto, a trade union leader who was assassinated in 1948 by the Cosa Nostra but whose body was only recently identified.

The Head of INTERPOL said that besides institutions and individuals, international law enforcement and judicial cooperation was equally crucial in successfully combatting organized crime, and that this is precisely what INTERPOL strives to accomplish within the international law enforcement community.

Prefect Manganelli stressed the importance of cooperation between INTERPOL’s 190 member countries and said Italy’s cooperation with INTERPOL had been ‘especially close’ in the aftermath of the Italian judges’ assassinations.

“Today’s fight against organized crime means not just arresting criminals but also seizing their assets, and in this area INTERPOL’s global network has offered strong support to Italy. In 2011 alone, Italy confiscated properties, money and other assets belonging to the mafia worth some 9 billion Euros. In this respect Italy will be proud to see the Digest become an invaluable resource to the law enforcement community worldwide,” added Prefect Manganelli.

Mr Noble cited how recently, INTERPOL had contributed to the arrest of one of Italy’s most wanted criminals, Vito Roberto Palazzolo, who had been sentenced in Palermo to nine years in prison for external collusion with the Mafia. Palazzolo, who was the subject of an internationally-wanted persons INTERPOL Red Notice, was arrested in Bangkok on 30 March by Thai authorities with the support of INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigation Support unit and Italy’s State Police.

“I commend Prefect Manganelli for the leadership and dedication he has shown over the years in working with INTERPOL and countless other law enforcement bodies worldwide to fight transnational organized crime. Italy and the international law enforcement community are lucky to have such a talented and committed professional,” said the Head of INTERPOL.

The Digest of Organized Crime Cases project was launched in 2010 on the tenth anniversary of the Palermo Convention, under the leadership of Italy, of Colombia – whose determination against armed guerilla groups Mr Noble praised at the meeting – and UNODC, with the support of INTERPOL.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
INTERPOL Red Notice Removal Lawyers Videos:

INTERPOL Notice Removal

INTERPOL’s Red Notice

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call:

           Office Locations

Email:


Customs and Police target drug couriers in operations at airports across Africa and Brazil

February 13, 2012

INTERPOL on February 13, 2012 released the following:

“DAKAR, Senegal – An operation to disrupt the trafficking of drugs from South America to Europe via Africa has resulted in the seizure of more than 500 kilogrammes of drugs and the recovery of cash totalling two and half million euros in 25 airports across Western and Central Africa and Brazil.

Operation Cocair 3, led by the World Customs Organization (WCO) supported by INTERPOL and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), also resulted in nearly 50 arrests in addition to the recovery of guns, counterfeit products including medicines and goods prohibited from export such as ivory and cultural artworks.

Cocaine, heroin, cannabis, ecstasy, methamphetamine and amphetamines were among the drugs discovered in suitcases and a variety of hiding places including tins of tuna and in one instance, beneath a woman’s wig.

In addition to normal risk profiling by customs officers, during the two-week operation in November and December 2011, advance passenger information checks against INTERPOL’s global databases enabled the early identification of individuals suspected of involvement in drug trafficking, leading to their arrest either as they attempted to leave Brazil or upon arrival at their destination airport.

In addition to the WCO communications network among the participating countries, INTERPOL’s global network connecting each of its 190 National Central Bureaus also led to arrests in countries not taking part in Cocair 3. The Command and Coordination Centre at INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France liaised with countries to pass on information about high-risk passengers, such as a 48-year-old South African man arriving from Brazil via Lisbon who was taken into custody at Maputo airport in Mozambique with 53 capsules of cocaine in his stomach.

Announcing the results in Dakar, Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya said, “It is essential that we unite and coordinate our efforts on a daily basis to fight illicit drug trafficking in all its forms and on all fronts: this is a scourge exacerbated by the effects of globalization. Operation Cocair 3 – the result of some excellent cooperation between WCO, INTERPOL, UNODC and the European Commission – is a fine example of the success we can achieve.”

Ahead of the operation more than 40 customs and law enforcement officers from the participating countries were given specialist training provided by INTERPOL and the WCO in combating drug trafficking.

“Drug traffickers will use every opportunity to exploit any weakness in security, which is why joint police and customs operations such as Cocair are so important in producing an effective law enforcement response against this form of criminality,” said INTERPOL’s Acting Executive Director for Police Services, Bernd Rossbach.

Operation Cocair 3 was carried out under the umbrella of AIRCOP, a project funded by the European Union and Canada aimed at building drug-interdiction capabilities at selected international airports through improved inter-service coordination and international cooperation. The project, involving INTERPOL, the UNODC and the WCO also aims to promote information-sharing between services at national and international level as well as an intelligence-led approach to countering drug trafficking.

Participating countries in Cocair 3; Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cape Verde, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
INTERPOL Red Notice Removal Lawyers Videos:

INTERPOL Notice Removal

INTERPOL’s Red Notice

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


International workshop focuses on controlled delivery strategy against forest and wildlife crime

December 19, 2011

INTERPOL on December 16, 2011 released the following:

“SHANGHAI, China ― The first international workshop on Establishing a Network of Controlled Delivery Units for Forest and Wildlife Law Enforcement brought together 50 representatives from customs, police, prosecution and specialized agencies from 19 countries across Africa and Asia.

With the meeting organized by the World Customs Organization (WCO) under the auspices of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) supported by INTERPOL, participants at the three-day workshop (7-9 December) agreed a number of recommendations to address the legislative, capacity and operational aspects of controlled deliveries.

The interception of smuggled commodities, including wildlife and wildlife products, prevents illegal goods from reaching consumers or black markets. However, interception in many cases leads only to the arrest of ‘mules’ or couriers and seldom to the arrest and conviction of those criminals who direct and organize the smuggling.

By allowing the contraband to continue its journey in a ‘controlled’ manner, authorities can gather evidence at each point in the chain and, eventually, identify, arrest, and prosecute those who are involved in the shipment.

Engaging in such ‘controlled deliveries’ enables enforcement agencies to monitor the supply and distribution to manufacturers and retailers or individual consumers. Investigations at these final stages will often uncover evidence to identify actors at all stages of the poaching and trafficking operation.

“INTERPOL strongly supports this collaborative initiative by the ICCWC to bring together enforcement agencies to combat transnational wildlife crime. INTERPOL stands by to assist countries and partner organizations through its network of 190 member countries and I-24/7 police communications systems,” said INTERPOL’s Acting Executive Director for Police Services, Bernd Rossbach.

Alongside other ICCWC members at the workshop― the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the WCO and the World Bank ― Justin Gosling from INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme provided specialist training input and reaffirmed the importance of the organizations cooperating under the framework of the newly-formed ICCWC.

The countries represented at the conference included Cameroon, China and its Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, Tanzania and Vietnam.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
INTERPOL Red Notice Removal Lawyers Videos:

INTERPOL Notice Removal

INTERPOL’s Red Notice

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


INTERPOL Regional Bureau hosts meeting to enhance South America’s response to drug trafficking

November 28, 2011

INTERPOL on November 16, 2011 released the following:

“BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – A meeting of South American national agencies dedicated to the fight against drug trafficking has closed with a decision to set up a multi-disciplinary group of experts in the analysis and trends of drug trafficking in order to strengthen cooperation against the trade in illegal drugs.

The three-day meeting (9-11 November), organized by INTERPOL’s Regional Bureau in Buenos Aires, brought together experts and specialists from drugs enforcement police, customs, armed forces and governmental agencies in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela, as well as representatives from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and from the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

At the meeting, agency representatives who agreed to set up the network of multi-disciplinary experts and specialists also outlined joint action strategies against the trafficking of drugs by sea, river, air and land, as well as the trafficking of chemical precursors used to illegally manufacture drugs.

The experts group will strengthen the strategic and operational support of anti-drugs groups in the different participating countries, under the coordination of INTERPOL’s National Central Bureaus in the region.

“The idea behind the creation of the multi-disciplinary group of experts is to have a permanent and comprehensive structure that can facilitate the sharing and exchange of experience so as to harness a joint regional approach against drug trafficking and related crimes,” said the head of INTERPOL’s Regional Bureau in Buenos Aires, Rafael Pena-Hernández.

The meeting also led to the elaboration of three maps highlighting the flow, routes and trends of drug trafficking in South America, and from this region to the different drugs markets in the world.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
INTERPOL Red Notice Removal Lawyers Videos:

INTERPOL Notice Removal

INTERPOL’s Red Notice

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.