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Story Highlights

  • A MOU was signed on December 10, between the Government and the United Nations to implement the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) at the Norman Manley and Sangster International Airports.
  • The project is an initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), World Customs Organisation and INTERPOL, aimed at supporting the establishment of secure and effective international law enforcement networks to counter the risk of illicit imports and exports via air.
  • The overall objective is to disrupt the illegal networks that are disseminating drugs and other illicit products at source and transit points through smarter, more effective, well-connected, intelligence led counter-narcotic activities.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on December 10, between the Government and the United Nations to implement the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) at the Norman Manley and Sangster International Airports.

The project is an initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), World Customs Organisation and INTERPOL, aimed at supporting the establishment of secure and effective international law enforcement networks to counter the risk of illicit imports and exports via air.

The overall objective is to disrupt the illegal networks that are disseminating drugs and other illicit products at source and transit points through smarter, more effective, well-connected, intelligence led counter-narcotic activities.

The signing took place at the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing’s Maxfield Avenue Offices.

Funded by the European Union, the project currently covers 25 countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

In his address at the ceremony, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, noted that Jamaica has made exceptional strides in the fight against international trade in illicit goods and drugs.

“This initiative will provide us with some of the support needed to mount an even stronger response. It will be facilitated by the establishment of two joint interdiction task forces, one at the Norman Manley International Airport and the second at Sangster International Airport,” the Minister noted.

He explained that the objective will be to improve coordination in various areas as well as to avoid duplication of activities leading to a safer, more reliable and user friendly air transport system.

For his part, Law Enforcement Expert of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes Regional Office for Central America and the Caribbean, Mr. Bob Van den Berghe, explained that AIRCOP will provide real time communication between international sources, transit and destination airports in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The overall objective is to build drug interdiction capacities at international airports in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.  In doing so, the project establishes joint airport interdiction Task Forces which are connected to international law enforcement databases and communication networks to enable transmission of operational information, aimed at intercepting illicit shipments,” Mr. Berghe said.

He added that the project will promote intelligence and information sharing between agencies at the international level, and that the units will do proactive investigations aimed at intervention before crimes are committed.

“The units will perform crime pattern analysis, general profile analysis and risk assessment analysis,” Mr. Berghe said.

Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, emphasized that the importance of international cooperation to effectively combat crime, especially in the trade of illicit drugs and weapons, cannot be overstated.

“Globalization, despite its many benefits, has led to crime becoming borderless. As a result, criminal organizations are increasingly being strengthened through international networks, which allow them to carry out their activities with increased efficiency,” Mr. Bunting said.

He pointed out that airports present a particular challenge to security because of the variety of players operating in that space.

“It is a prime target for international criminals and we have to continue to raise the bar in terms of the capabilities we have to address these risks,” Mr. Bunting said.

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