Project Aircop

In 2008, in response to the emerging threat posed by the opening up of the new trafficking route for cocaine from South America to Europe via West Africa, the WCO carried out the first Operation Cocair. The results of this Operation confirmed the previous analysis and showed the necessity to build capacity of the airport services in the affected countries, providing them with training, facilities, equipment and drug detection tools, as well as establish a robust coordination mechanism.

In order to address these needs, the project Aircop was launched in 2011. It is funded by the European Commission and Canada, managed by the UNODC and implemented by the WCO and INTERPOL in close cooperation with the WCO Members and other law enforcement agencies. Project Aircop is aimed at combating illicit cocaine trafficking by air from South America, via Africa, to Europe, as well as fighting airport crime. It is primarily focused on West and Central African airports, where the first multidisciplinary Joint Air Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) units, comprising officers from Customs, Police, the Gendarmerie and other law enforcement agencies, were established.

The Project Aircop annual programme includes the operational activities. Thus, three Operations Cocair were conducted within its framework to test the operational capabilities of JAITFs in real time.

In 2014 the Project started expanding to the supply countries in South America and the Caribbean through the establishment of the JAITFs in the key airports in the region. WCO CENcomm is used as a communication platform for liaison officers and JAITF officials. Countries, associated with the Project in other regions, such as Europe and North Africa, benefit from participation in CENcomm as well. Apart from CENcomm, INTERPOL’s I-24/7 database is also used to enable secure information exchange between airports and to access criminal records of passengers.