An Interpol team deployed to Guinea Bissau is assisting national authorities investigate one of the country’s largest ever drug seizures.
Police made 10 arrests following the seizure of about 1.8 tonnes of cocaine transported by sea to the country’s north-west. Suspects are from Colombia, Guinea Bissau and Mali.
The Interpol Incident Response Team (IRT) with experts in drug investigations, cybercrime, intelligence analysis and financial crime was deployed at the request of Guinea Bissau authorities.
The team was joined by officers from Brazil’s Federal Police and Colombia’s National Police, reflecting the international nature of the investigation.
The IRT focus is on assisting judicial police in Guinea Bissau with forensic drug analysis via Interpol’s Relief database and co-ordinating investigative leads with Brazil and Colombia as well as extracting electronic data for analysis.
Additional Interpol capabilities supporting the investigation are global databases for fingerprints, nominal checks and stolen and lost travel documents.
Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said: “This major cocaine seizure underlines the need for an international co-ordinated approach to tackle the drug trade, save lives and take money out of the pockets of traffickers”.
“This is where Interpol’s global network and databases can prove vital in connecting investigative dots across several continents, especially for officers on the ground.”
With an approximate street value of between 60 and 80 million euros in destination regions including Northern Europe, the seizure follows the interception earlier this year of another large drug shipment in Guinea Bissau. It highlights how investigations following major seizures help law enforcement dismantle crime networks.
Ongoing support to investigations in Guinea Bissau is provided by Interpol’s criminal networks sub-directorate, which co-ordinates drug trafficking operations across different regions worldwide. It also assists drug operations and investigations led by national or international agencies.
Interpol’s 24-hour Command and Co-ordination Centre (CCC) at General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France; Buenos Aires, Argentina and in Singapore liaises with the Interpol National Central Bureaus of countries in the investigation to ensure speedy exchange of crucial investigative information.
Brazil, Colombia and Guinea Bissau are among 12 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa which Interpol’s Project Crimjust supports to counter organised crime along cocaine trafficking routes, focusing on criminal investigations and judicial co-operation.