The COLIBRI Project Geoportal arrives in Latin America and the Caribbean

30 June 2022

Law enforcement agencies in Latin America will be able to benefit from a new mapping tool for strengthening general aviation surveillance.

Under the COLIBRI Project, implemented by the WCO and funded by the European Union (EU), IT tools for secure real-time communication (CENcomm) and mapping (Geoportal) have been developed in order to strengthen the operational capacities of the administrations responsible for general aviation (GA) control. With the support of the WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs) in the Caribbean and South America, these tools should enable administrations to improve their cooperation and coordination of controls in the general aviation sector.

From 16 to 20 May 2022, 30 specialist law enforcement officers from Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Peru, gathered in Bogotá, Colombia, for a train-the-trainers course on the Geoportal and CENcomm. They explored the features of the Geoportal, which combines, on the same platform, access to operational information collected in the field with tools for data visualization and cartographic analysis, and a system of cross-referencing the information with open-source data, as well as the provision of assistance in the preparation of controls.

During the opening ceremony of the training, Colonel John Chavarro from the Drug Enforcement Directorate (DIRAN) of the Colombian National Police; Major Ernesto Andrés Granados González from the Intelligence Directorate (DIPOL) of the Colombian National Police; and Captain Liliana Bastidas Rodríguez from the Fiscal and Customs Police Directorate (POLFA) of the Colombian National Police, all emphasized the importance of the COLIBRI Project in strengthening international cooperation, crucial to the dismantling of international organized crime groups, but also welcomed this WCO initiative, which takes into account the current challenge of using data for better interpretation and integration in control activities.

From 13 to 17 June 2022, 32 participants coming from different institutions responsible for fighting drug trafficking and organized crime of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay also set out to discover the many features of the Geoportal. Beyond the acquisition of knowledge, the regional training programme helps them establish a network of trusted contacts among administrations and countries which can only reinforce the effectiveness of the fight against cross-border organized crime.

The training was opened by the Director General of Customs of Uruguay, Mr. Jaime Borgiani, accompanied by the Secretary General of the National Drug Board of Uruguay, Mr. Daniel Radío, and the Commander of the Air Operations Command of the Uruguayan Air Force, Brigadier General Mr. Alejandro O. Vilche. They welcomed the provision of the IT tools developed within the framework of the COLIBRI Project, as these tools constitute an operational technical support to the national administrations in charge of controls and will concretely reinforce the links between the administrations whose cooperation remains the only way forward in the fight against organized crime. The EU Delegation of Uruguay was also present at the opening ceremony, represented by the Head of the Political, Press and Information Section, Mr. Tomas Pospisil, who also stressed the importance of initiatives such as COLIBRI in exchanging information and best practices in combatting transnational organised crime and in strengthening the dialogue between the EU and the regions most affected by illicit activities.

Following on from these intense weeks of training, the participants will ensure that the knowledge they have gained is passed on to their colleagues, thereby increasing the number of operators responsible for importing the data into the Geoportal and, in the process, earning their certificates as trainers under the COLIBRI Project.

The next train-the-trainers session on the use of the Geoportal and CENcomm will again take place in the Latin America region, in Brasilia, Brazil, from 22 to 26 August 2022. On the occasion of this trans-regional training, participants will gather from Brazil and Cape Verde.