Trans-Atlantic Symposium on Dismantling Transnational Illicit Networks: Final Report

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
November 10, 2011


Combating the lethal nexus of transnational crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism requires a multilateral approach. Raising global awareness about the new reality of transnational crime is the first step. Independently and together, we should strive to galvanize multilateral action to constrain the corruptive power of transnational crime, sever its enabling means, break its illicit power structures, shrink the threat it poses to citizens and governance, and ultimately defeat the transnational illicit networks that pose the greatest threat to international security. This conference is an opportunity for us to begin this important work together.

President Barack Obama, Message delivered at the Opening of the Trans-Atlantic Symposium

From the outset, we identified the challenge of “Fighting Networks with Networks” as the over-arching theme and main objective of the Symposium. Our intention in organizing this event was to build a shared commitment to true and enduring inter-regional collaboration, in order to combat the transnational criminal threats and illicit networks that have become increasingly prominent across the trans-Atlantic region.

Tomas Dupla del Moral, Director for the Americas, EEAS, EU, Co-Chair

We must build capacity and institutions. An operation, if successfully conducted, gives you a result for a day. Building capacity and institutions produces results for a generation. We must invest in our criminal justice sector across the spectrum from basic policing to investigators, prosecutors, courts and correction system. We must invest in information sharing across borders and frontiers because we know it works when information is shared between governments and between law enforcement organizations. We must build the political will of governments with regional partnerships. We must root out corruption in all of our governments through processes of transparency and accountability. We must strengthen our individual nations border controls because a border for an international criminal organization represents an opportunity. We must follow the money because international criminal organizations do their work as a business; they do it to earn money we therefore must find a way to separate them from their money.

Ambassador William R. Brownfield, US Department of State, Co-Chair


The United States Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the European Union (EU) European External Action Service (EEAS) co-hosted the Trans-Atlantic Symposium on Dismantling Transnational Illicit Networks on May 17-19, 2011, in Lisbon, Portugal.

More than 300 senior law enforcement and judicial officials from over 65 countries, including representatives from the United States, the European Union (represented by the EEAS and the European Commission including the European Anti-Fraud Office) and its Member States, Latin America, Canada, the Caribbean and West Africa, participated. Among senior representatives of international and regional organizations included officials from the G8, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Organization of American States (OAS), the World Customs Organization (WCO), INTERPOL, EUROPOL, the Maritime Analysis and Operation Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) and the Inter Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).

The theme of the Trans-Atlantic Symposium was “Fighting Networks with Networks,” building on a theme that was first unveiled at the Trans-Pacific Symposium on Dismantling Transnational Illicit Networks, held in Hawaii in 2009. Similarly, this theme highlights the United States’ and EU’s mutually-shared objective and high-level commitment to inter-regional cooperation to counter transnational criminal threats and disrupt illicit networks that have emerged and expanded across the trans-Atlantic region.

Several well-thought articulations for ways and means to turn words into action emerged over the course of the Lisbon symposium, including a consensus by participants to:

• Launch an informal trans-Atlantic network to support the establishment of inter-connected law enforcement and judicial platforms and networks at the regional/sub-regional level;

• Operationalize and incentivize international cooperation beyond words;

• Target corruption of the upper echelons of power and deny safe haven to illicit actors;

• Promote effective law enforcement practices such as mutual legal assistance;

• Strengthen synergies between multilateral and regional efforts;

• Broaden the understanding of emerging threats and identify gaps in information;

• Coordinate law enforcement assistance and training on threats in West Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean;

• Encourage scientific collaboration to promote research, data collection, and analysis of the scope of transnational organized crime and the effectiveness of law enforcement practices;

• Seek opportunities to coordinate with key Latin American countries to help build capacity in West Africa;

• “Follow the money” to disrupt illicit financial flows;

• Recognize the importance of long-term development assistance in strengthening the rule of law.


Symposium participants all recognized that transnational organized crime has become a greater threat to global safety, security, rule of law and the global economy than ever before. Transnational organized crime, using tools like bribery, corruption, fear, violence and intimidation, can suborn government institutions and capture states.

Criminal actors and legitimate entrepreneurs are constantly evolving to take advantage of the new technological, financial, communications and market opportunities presented by globalization. Just as legitimate businesses are exploring previously untapped markets, outsourcing pieces of the supply chain, and entering into joint ventures with other firms, so criminal actors are exploiting globalization to diversify their activities, enter into alliances and joint ventures, outsource pieces of the supply chain and explore untapped markets for illicit goods and services.

To effectively combat the hold that these transnational illicit networks are gaining on states, markets, and communities around the world, international law enforcement networks must evolve as well.

The greatest criminal threat we face today is not stand-alone transnational criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, money laundering, smuggling of counterfeit products, or arms trafficking, but is rather the convergence of these threats as they leverage and reinforce each other. Transnational illicit networks are diversifying their activities, smuggling illegal goods across borders, trafficking in drugs, arms, humans and other contraband, smuggling counterfeit products, embezzling public funds, engaging in money-laundering, and hijacking legitimate businesses to mask their illicit activities —in many cases, all at once. These activities weaken societies, economies and government institutions, threaten the security of sovereign states and their citizens, and cost both developing and advanced industrial countries jobs and tax revenue.

Transnational illicit networks move between legal and illegal economies, creating safe havens, allying themselves with corrupt elements of national governments, and engaging in legitimate business on the side to disguise or supplement their criminal activities. The blurring of the legitimate and the criminal in many economies undermines regional security and prosperity and weakens trust and integrity in justice, markets, and communities.

Criminal threats are also converging geographically. Today’s transnational illicit networks look upon borders as opportunities, not barriers. Their flexibility allows them to react and adapt to the countermeasures taken by individual states and regions, and to expand into different markets as demand grows. Converging geographic threats include drug flows between Latin America, West Africa, and Europe; illicit financial flows between West Africa, South America, North America and Europe; human smuggling from Africa and Latin America to Europe and North America; arms trafficking from North America to Latin America and the Caribbean; and other illicit activities that take advantage of modern global transportation, communication and financial systems. These threats are compounded by corruption, porous borders, inadequate regulatory, law enforcement and criminal justice capacity and capabilities, and the dangerous alliances between the transnational organized crime and terrorist networks and organizations – often called the crime-terror nexus.

Symposium participants recognized the clear need for a coordinated response on the part of international law enforcement. No single state can combat these transnational threats alone. Communication, cooperation, coordination and collaboration are needed at both the policy and operational levels.

Countries must work together and with international law enforcement partners to meet transnational poly-crime threats. Law enforcement agencies need to share information and best practices both within their countries with other agencies and also internationally with their counterparts.

More information is needed on the links between terrorists groups and criminal networks, especially with drug cartels in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as better data collection, mapping and analysis of trafficking flows between Latin American cartels, Eurasian-based syndicates, and West African gangs.

Symposium participants expressed a new resolve for the international law enforcement community to become the predators and criminals to become the prey; fight networks with networks. The sessions and discussion outlined below all return to this idea. The first day’s plenary sessions focused on current trends, challenges, and responses, while the second day’s plenary breakout sessions highlighted specific threats and responses, including a panel on how best to implement existing multilateral instruments such as the UN Conventions on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and against Corruption (UNCAC). On the third day, speakers offered their proposals for how to strengthen international cooperation, capacity and capabilities.

Participants reinforced the conviction that political will is crucial but not sufficient. In order to effectively manage new and evolving transnational illicit threats, the international law enforcement community must work together to translate the political will that brought participants to the conference in the first place into concrete, deliverable results at the operational level.



Tuesday, May 17

Setting the Context: Current Trends and Key Challenges


During the first day’s plenary and panel sessions, keynote speakers provided an overview of current threats and trends, described their countries’ efforts to combat these threats, and outlined their visions for the character and structure of international cooperation.

João Cravinho, Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, welcomed delegates to the symposium. His message carried a sense of urgency and stressed the need for greater innovation in the international response to transnational illicit threats. He expressed concern over the threat to international peace and security posed by organized crime, especially the crime-terror nexus, and warned that in some countries, the State risks “becoming prisoner of a parallel structure,” namely powerful criminal networks.

Cravinho affirmed that analysis of transnational organized crime, especially in West Africa, is high on Portugal’s agenda for the UN Security Council in 2011-2012. He expressed Portugal’s support for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the European Platform of Police Cooperation in West Africa (based in Dakar, Senegal), and the Maritime Analysis and Operation Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon. He acknowledged the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) 2008 Regional Action Plan to fight drug trafficking and organized crime and also lauded the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) for their efforts in developing a security and development framework for the Sahel. He cautioned, however, that increasing awareness of the problem does not amount to a solution.

Cravinho identified three primary areas in which greater cooperation is needed:

1. Problem: Fragmentation among international law enforcement.
Solution: A UN Security Council resolution to provide a comprehensive political-strategic framework.

2. Problem: Risk of “contagion” by West African organized crime in other regions of Africa.
Solution: International assistance in strengthening political and justice institutions.

3. Problem: Impunity for drug traffickers.
Solution: Strengthening criminal justice systems.

Drawing on the innovative international response to piracy off the coast of Somalia, Cravinho proposed setting up either a regional court (through an ECOWAS treaty) or extra-territorial/delocalized national chambers (through agreement between the host country and country/countries of jurisdiction) dedicated to organized crime.

Ambassador William R. Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), US Department of State, and co-chair of the Symposium delivered a message from US President Barack Obama expressing his administration’s commitment to dismantling transnational illicit networks, especially the crime-terror nexus, encouraging participating nations and organizations to work together, and recognizing the symposium as an important step towards that end.

Ambassador Brownfield then illustrated the “lessons learned” from the decades-long fight against drug trafficking. When the War on Drugs commenced, the major trafficking route began in South America and crossed into the southeastern United States via the Caribbean. Law enforcement agencies on both sides of the route addressed that problem, and the traffickers adapted their strategy and routes accordingly. This game of cat and mouse continued until the original North-South axis morphed into the current trans-Atlantic network extending from the two Americas to Europe via West Africa.

Setting the tone for the panels to come, Ambassador Brownfield emphasized the importance of building capacity and institutions—especially those involved in policing, investigation, prosecution, courts, and corrections—to produce results not for a day, but “for a generation.” He noted that information sharing is an effective practice, and that regional partnerships are necessary to further build political will. He identified border security as an important area of concern, and encouraged actors to “follow the money,” recognizing that criminals are fundamentally businessmen. Finally, he stressed the need to ratify and implement new and existing international legal instruments to combat transnational illicit threats.


Opening plenary speakers outlined the current challenges, priorities, and efforts of their respective organizations and areas of action.

In her introductory remarks, Françoise Le Bail, Director-General of the European Commission Directorate-General for Justice (DG Justice), highlighted the consequences of cocaine trafficking in source, transit, and consuming countries, citing UNODC assessments of the situation. She acknowledged Europe’s appeal as a long-term investment area for organized criminal groups, noting that 25-30 million individuals in the EU have taken one illicit drug or another in the past year. Echoing Ambassador Brownfield, she emphasized capacity-building and good governance as the foundation for further action.

To this end, Le Bail praised the EU’s Security and Development Strategy and the G8+ Ministerial meeting held earlier in May 2011, and pointed to several structures which facilitate information and intelligence sharing, such as regional platforms in Ghana and Senegal, MAOC-N, the Centre de Coordination pour la Lutte Anti-Drogue en Mediterranée (CeCLAD-M), and the US Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S). Finally, Le Bail encouraged the improvement of judicial cooperation across borders, building-up a law enforcement network, especially reinforcing the framework for extradition agreements and urged participants to think in terms of “a network based on a community of interests, which is the expression of values we all share.”

José Lopes Correia, Cape Verde Minister of Justice, called attention to Cape Verde’s strategic position in the Atlantic Ocean as a major stop-off point for drug and human trafficking routes between Latin America, West Africa, and the EU. He warned that Cape Verde, despite its commitment to combating trafficking, money laundering, and corruption, is too small to fight the battle against organized crime alone. Lopes Correia called on larger countries to help Cape Verde reinforce “weak points in our joint wall” and challenged the poorest nations of the world to take a more active role in designing and implementing a strategy and actions to keep up with the “change in paradigm” to a net-centric criminal underworld.

Facundo Rosas Rosas, General Commissioner of the Mexican Federal Police, warned that organized crime has undermined the notion of violence as a monopoly of the state. Citing the “change in paradigm” identified by Lopes Correia, Rosas Rosas affirmed Mexico’s commitment to international law enforcement cooperation, but challenged other states to operationalize that commitment by “going from words to deeds.” He said that Mexican authorities are expanding both structurally (in terms of human and institutional resources) and operationally, adopting a “new police paradigm” aimed at building logistical and technological capacity through, for example, the Federal Police Intelligence Center. Rosas Rosas expressed the will of the Mexican government to share every resource possible to fight the scourge of international organized crime, and vowed to “protect and serve” not just local communities but the international community as well.

Drawing on 25 years of experience fighting drug trafficking in Colombia, Juan Carlos Acevedo Vanegas, National Coordinator of Colombia’s National Anti-Narcotics and Maritime Interdiction Unit, described the cooperation between police, prosecutors, and others during the War on Drugs of the 1990s that led to the successful “chasing out” of drug traffickers from Colombia to other countries in the region. He urged better police and judicial cooperation among Mexico, West Africa, and Europe, warning that the ongoing process in some European states may be too sluggish to keep up with fast, mobile international crime networks. Acevedo Vanegas commended the coordination among the special police units in Colombia, but reiterated that even there they need to be accompanied by judicial coordination to be effective.

John Sandage, Director, UNODC Division for Treaty Affairs, pushed for a new global strategy to incorporate crime and drug control into the security-development agenda, recognizing that political instability generates organized crime, and organized crime, in turn, perpetuates instability and poverty. Particularly in West Africa, Sandage warned, crime has “become macroeconomic,” generating drug dependency, human rights concerns, and inefficient criminal justice systems. Criminal revenues dwarf the GDPs of the smallest countries. Sandage outlined four areas of UNODC intervention:

1. Strengthening states and the rule of law.

2. Prioritizing a transnational response over sovereignty concerns, using the UN Convention aagainst Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the UN Convention aagainst Corruption (UNCAC).

3. Intelligence sharing.

4. “Go for the money” through anti-money laundering and confiscation mechanisms.

Myria Vassiliadou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator for the European Commission Directorate-General for Home Affairs (DG Home Affairs), delivered a thorough overview of EU anti-trafficking efforts, including the EU Drugs Strategy 2005-2012; the EU Internal Security Strategy (2010); EUROSUR, the European border surveillance system; EUROPOL; two information exchange platforms in Senegal, and Ghana; and the emerging EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel. Vassiliadou pointed to several current challenges, including criminal penetration of legitimate markets, illicit financial flows, and the vulnerability of some European countries to corruption as well as the need to improve prevention and detection.

Moving forward, the European Commission will focus on implementing the tools and legal instruments developed over the last 10 years, especially financial investigations; an anti-corruption package aimed at monitoring member states next June; a new police training strategy beginning in 2012; and bilateral, regional, and multilateral agreements. The EU will also contribute to the Action Plan adopted at the G8+ Ministerial meeting on trans-Atlantic cocaine routes in May 2011. Finally, Vassiliadou urged the simplification of existing legal agreements and the conclusion of operational agreements allowing the boarding of vessels. 


Threat Convergence and Current Transnational Crime Trends

Chaired by David M. Luna, Director for Transnational Criminal Threats and Illicit Networks, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), US Department of State, and Richard Wright, Director for Conflict Prevention and Security Policy, European External Action Service (EEAS). Panelists: Pierre Lapaque, Chief, Implementation Support Section, Organized Crime Branch, Division for Treaty Affairs, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); John Picarelli, Social Science Analyst, US National Institute of Justice; Troels Oerting, Assistant Director of Operations, EUROPOL; Paula Llewellyn, QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, Jamaica; John Pokoo, Head of SALW Unit, Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution Department, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre.

Building on key themes of the opening plenary keynotes, the panel examined more in-depth the threat environment across the Atlantic including how some of these threats are evolving; outline the trends and conditions that allow international organized criminal networks to threaten the collective interests of jurisdictions across the Atlantic by leveraging the global illicit hubs and routes to advance their criminal enterprises; explore the latest strategic mapping of how some of today’s criminal groups operate and how some of the fault-lines are being exploited to bring together criminals, facilitators, black market profiteers, and other illicit actors from across the globe; and discuss how some jurisdictions are responding to combat these converging threats by effective investigations, prosecutions, and regional intelligence-based policing.

Co-Chair David M. Luna emphasized the inter-regional and interconnected ways in which these transnational criminal threats are developing. Luna underscored that when criminal and illicit actors and networks converge, they expose their memberships and operating procedures to greater scrutiny, and potential vulnerability. At the intersection of illicit nodes, we can better follow the leads, track financial flows, uncover corrupt channels, and understand the interconnected links between organized crime and other threats, and to unravel the web of criminality and corruption that often runs through the illicit underworld. Luna recommended a need for adopting regional intelligence-based policing and the importance of a committed network of law enforcement and security officials to work together to focus on the convergence of criminal activities at the critical nodes where illicit networks intersect, where corruption eases criminal transactions, and where illicit actors and their networked communities cross international borders.

Co-Chair Richard Wright set the tone for the panel by describing “cycles of violence” fueled by illicit activities, and emphasized peace-building, state-building, and long-term policy engagement.

Pierre Lapaque delivered an overview of cocaine trafficking, heroin trafficking, and trafficking in persons as three of the most pernicious forms of transnational organized crime in the trans-Atlantic region. A theme common to all three crimes is the rise of Europe as a major receiving destination. In all three cases, Lapaque noted, transnational organized crime has had a strong negative impact on stability. He explained alarming threat convergence trends such as the correlation between terrorist/insurgent incidents and coca cultivation areas in South America and the rise in the murder rate on key cocaine trafficking routes through Central America.

Lapaque identified five main challenges facing international law enforcement: lack of data; poor development; threat convergence; implementation of the international legal framework; and corruption. He proposed a “4Cs approach” to address these problems, based on Coordination, Cooperation, Collaboration, and Capacity-Building against corruption.

John Picarelli introduced a chronological trajectory of the crime-terror nexus in which criminal groups and terrorist organizations first find a nexus—a point of mutual benefit—then gradually become symbiotic until they converge fully, forming a hybrid organization. Threat convergence does not take place in failed states, as one might expect, but where state authority is in question, corruption and violence are high, regulation is light, and there is adequate access to the infrastructure of globalization.

Picarelli then presented a world map entitled “The Potpourri of Scum” depicting main drug trafficking routes, piracy hotspots, and main opium or cocaine production areas superimposed on a backdrop of likely terrorist safe havens, failed states, and critically weak states. On this map, the safe havens are found in or near critically weak states and regions, such as the Sahel and West Africa, which serve as hubs for illicit activity. Picarelli urged African solutions for African organized crime, including bilateral, multilateral, and public-private partnerships as well as enhanced research. Too little is known about the scope of threat convergence in the region, he warned, especially in the field of environmental crime.

Troels Oerting presented a detailed snapshot of five European criminal hubs, the dynamics of organized crime (especially trafficking in drugs, human beings, and toxic waste) around those “centers of gravity,” facilitating factors, and emerging issues. Several common threads leapt out, including the increasing use of light aircraft and airports to facilitate trafficking, and the globalization of crime in Europe, where many organized crime groups have developed ties with, Latin American counterparts. Oerting identified several worrying recent trends, including: the global economic crisis; cooperation between criminal and blackmailed/corrupt legitimate “specialists;” diversification of routes, modus operandi, and markets; an increasingly collaborative criminal atmosphere; and criminal penetration of the private sector.

Oerting then outlined EUROPOL’s Scanning, Analysis and Notification (SCAN) system which issues Threat Notices to fill intelligence gaps within the framework of the European Criminal Intelligence Model (ECIM) and inform the Organized Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA) process. For a more effective response to the organized criminal threat, Oerting recommended a “unified command” with a special focus on criminal hubs and financial investigations, as well as increased public-private partnerships, international interagency coordination, and joint investigations teams. Oerting reiterated the sentiment, expressed earlier, that a commitment to international cooperation must filter all the way down to agents on the street.

Paula Llewellyn gave a prosecutor’s assessment of gang violence in Jamaica, where 80% of the murder and serious crime rate is attributed to criminal gangs in the Caribbean. She warned that Jamaican gangs are rooted in poverty and lack of social/political mobility, and that if left unchallenged they could overtake the state, especially since many gangs have already made significant social investments in the neighborhoods they control. Noting the importance of political will, Llewellyn outlined Jamaica’s legislative and administrative responses to gangs, including a draft Organised Crime Act to enable security forces to effectively dismantle gangs, and a proposed Anti-Gang Unit.

Drawing on the Jamaican experience, Llewellyn recommended a number of steps to combat transnational crime, including: denying gangs access to guns; cutting off their financial resources; denying access to civil and political support through anti-corruption efforts; denying legitimacy in communities by “embarrassing them to a point where they are scorned by civilians”; improving international cooperation between law enforcement and prosecutorial bodies; and emphasizing electronic surveillance, plea bargaining, witness protection, fast trials, and sentencing.

John Pokoo provided a threat assessment for West Africa that reinforced the notion that organized crime is often deeply rooted in local societies. In addition to weak government capacity and vast, ungoverned territories which make law enforcement difficult, Pokoo noted that a major challenge for the region is “political dualism”: a formal national government in opposition to informal, mostly ethnic-based networks that inform the behavior of individuals. International cooperation is based on interaction with the former, while the latter is the real source of people’s moral orientation vis-à-vis what is criminal and what is legitimate. Furthermore, many West African criminal organizations are seen as “heroes” for providing public services. Nevertheless, Pokoo urged greater international collaboration, especially on border security, and attention to trans-regional threats. 


International Illicit Drugs Trafficking: trans-Atlantic Flows
(Session One – The Challenges)

Chaired by Troels Oerting, Assistant Director Operations, EUROPOL, and Rear Admiral Daniel B. Lloyd, Director, US Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S). Panelists: Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice; Dana Spinant, Head of Unit for Coordination of Anti-Drug Policy, DG Justice, European Commission; Mark Hamlet, Assistant Regional Director, Europe & Africa Region, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Lucinda Barbosa Ahukharie, Director of the Judicial Police, Guinea-Bissau; Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia, Permanent Executive Secretary of the CLACIP (Comunidad LatinoAmericana y del Caribe de Inteligencia Policial), Colombia; Caroline Edery, Head of Unit, Protection of Citizens and Enforcement of IPR, DG Taxation and Customs, European Commission.

The first session of the panel on International Illicit Drugs Trafficking: trans-Atlantic Flows emphasized integration of efforts from the international level to the street level, both within and among organizations and agencies. Panelists indicated the importance of “following the money” and disrupting not only the supply side of illicit drugs trafficking, but also demand. All articulated the need for judicial cooperation and a strong legal framework to aid international cooperation generally.

Co-Chair Rear Admiral Daniel B. Lloyd set the scene for the panel with five main challenges facing counternarcotics efforts: distance (far-flung networks and fewer assets to work with), detection, conveyance, information flows, and an “exponential resource challenge” (how to interdict large loads, distributed smaller loads, and street sales). Admiral Lloyd urged greater international cooperation as the first step to confronting all five challenges, and recommended specifically that counternarcotics efforts target loads at the source before they have a chance to work their way across the Atlantic.

Having made five trips to Mexico in recent years, Lanny Breuer declared that there is “no turning back for Mexico,” and noted the capacity, resourcefulness, and commitment of drug trafficking organizations there—commitment that must be matched by the international law enforcement community. He reiterated a main theme of the Symposium that blocking the proceeds of international crime is just as important as interdiction itself. He applauded Presidential Proclamation 7750, which is used to deny kleprocrats and other corrupt actors entry into the United States, as an important step in that direction.

Dana Spinant painted a picture of the web of illicit transactions in European markets and EU initiatives to dismantle it, including the EU Drugs Strategy 2005-2012, EUROSUR, the Accra and Dakar information sharing platforms, and the new European Pact against international drug trafficking mentioned earlier in the symposium. She emphasized five areas in which greater cooperation and attention are needed, including: information sharing; financial investigations, especially confiscation of assets; judicial cooperation, especially extradition agreements; institutional/development cooperation; and reliable data collection and analysis. She called for a balanced and comprehensive drugs strategy aimed at taking away “clients,” reducing demand, and treatment programs, noting, “As long as somebody wants to use drugs, someone will bring the drugs to them.”

Mark Hamlet brought a law enforcement practitioner’s perspective to the discussion. He related the results of interviews of drug cartel leaders about the business side of drug trafficking. First, drug trafficking is profitable, especially thanks to the size and openness of the European market. Second, they have found in corruption a successful business model through which they can evade law enforcement and navigate the international banking system. Third, they have employed standard risk management techniques to gain familiarity with US laws and loopholes. Hamlet pressed law enforcement leadership to take the initiative in transforming the “need to know” culture in law enforcement to “need to share”—not only at the policy-making level, but at the street level.

Lucinda Barbosa Ahukharie outlined the challenges facing Guinea-Bissau despite the country’s commitment to combat drug trafficking, confirmed by its adoption of an Emergency Plan to Fight Drug Trafficking in October 2007 (with the help of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)) and the Africa-EU strategic partnership at the Lisbon Summit in December 2007. With its coastal location and 81-island archipelago (of which 60 islands are unsettled), Guinea-Bissau is a natural platform for drug trafficking, a position compounded by porous borders, weak institutional structure, and poverty. Two types of drug traffickers use Guinea-Bissau as a transit or storage point: African criminals who traffic small quantities of illicit product (up to 20 kilos) and South American and European trafficking organizations who work with larger loads (several tons).

Barbosa Ahukharie also described the nexus of crime and terrorism/insurgency in Guinea-Bissau. Local autonomy movements have contributed to the proliferation of marijuana and hashish along the border, as well as firearms trafficking, while recent terrorist events in the sub-region have both perpetuated and benefited from the destabilizing effect of drug trafficking. The main challenge impeding the work of Guinea-Bissau’s criminal police is the weakness of the judiciary, which has generally failed to bring traffickers to justice even after they have been captured. For this reason, Barbosa Ahukharie agreed with Cravinho’s proposal for a regional or extra-territorial court for organized crime.

Although Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia indicated that the purity of drugs sold on US and Mexican streets has been compromised (and the price has risen) as a result of successful law enforcement efforts in Colombia, he warned that cartels are “like a balloon,” where squeezing one side merely results in a shift of air to the other — in this case, the crackdown on coca plantations in Colombia has resulted in the transfer of cocoa cultivation to other countries, judging from seizures in Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador. The strategic shape of drug trafficking in the region has changed, as the Andean countries - namely Peru and Bolivia - have become new launching hubs for illicit activity in Colombia and, more recently, Mexico. Traffickers are increasingly working together to share the market, and the region has seen convergence of crime and terrorism in financial terms.

Vargas Valencia called for increased focus on Central America, which serves as a hub for supply to European markets through West Africa. He added that since organized criminal groups seek areas where the authorities are weak, a key step in fighting drug trafficking must be to improve the ability of democratic institutions to govern effectively. Vargas Valencia also warned that the attention focused on global terrorism has caused many politicians to neglect the fight against narcotics trafficking.

Caroline Edery spoke about precursor chemicals, of which the European Union is now a major importer. The challenge of multiple-use precursor chemicals is that, unlike illicit drugs, the trade cannot be prohibited, so monitoring and control to prevent product diversion are crucial. In addition to police work, customs cooperation, and the legal framework provided by the UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, industry reporting is the first line of defense.

According to Edery, the EU control of precursors faces three main challenges. First, medicinal preparations for human use are not part of the control system although substances like ephedrine and pseudoephedrine can be used to make amphetamines and methamphetamine. Second, the emergence of new precursors makes it difficult to keep up with traffickers, although the dissemination of Risk Information Forms (RIF) at airports allows customs to better track these substances. Third, the shift from liquids to solids in the production of synthetic drugs will require a shift in control strategy.

Edery noted that control of precursors is already largely managed at the international level. The European Union has concluded over a dozen bilateral agreements with the United States, Mexico, Colombia, China, and others, and is currently negotiating with Russia. Two multilateral law enforcement operations targeting key chemicals—Project Cohesion and Project Prism—provide frameworks for international cooperation under the supervision of the UN International Narcotics Control Board. The European Union is now turning its attention to Latin America, following a symposium in Peru last year and an Action Plan developed by the UN Project Cohesion, with the objective of strengthening bi-regional cooperation. 


International Illicit Drugs Trafficking: trans-Atlantic Flows
(Session Two – The Responses)

Chaired by Francisco Acosta, Deputy Head of Division for the Andean Countries, European External Action Service (EEAS). Panelists: Gianni Baldi, Acting Director, Specialised Crime and Analysis Directorate, INTERPOL; Robert Hauschild, Head of Unit, Organised Crime Networks, EUROPOL; David Armond, Deputy Director International, UK Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA); Commander Hamza Umar, Commander Murtala Muhammed International Airport Operations, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Nigeria; Jairo Enrique Osorio, Chief, Naval Intelligence, Colombia; Patrick Espagnol, Drugs Coordinator, Interior Ministry, France.

In the second session of the panel on International Illicit Drugs Trafficking: trans-Atlantic Flows, panelists described the responses of their respective agencies and regions to the challenges identified in the previous session.

Gianni Baldi detailed the functions and capacities of INTERPOL, including the global communications system I-24/7, network of seven Regional Bureaus and two special representatives to the UN and EU, and Project White Flow, a merger of two projects focusing on intercontinental (Africa and South America) drug trafficking. INTERPOL further contributes to international cooperation and information sharing through its criminal identification process, operations-oriented training programs, meetings and workshops in Lyon, Incident Response Teams in Nigeria and Gambia, and coordination with the International Narcotics Control Board of the UN on implementing Projects Prism and Cohesion. INTERPOL has also created Project Baobab to raise awareness of the crime-terror nexus in West Africa.

Robert Hauschild called for a reassessment of the cocaine trafficking situation in Europe, warning that the European consumer market is poised to overtake the United States, and that Colombian and Mexican cartels are increasingly looking at Europe because it is “less risky to be arrested” there. He also reminded participants that there also exist European organized criminal groups that receive drugs. Hauschild recommended that countries use EUROPOL as a centralized information hub, with data sharing leading to operational results. He expressed an interest in coordinating with INTERPOL to extend EUROPOL’s reach in areas where EUROPOL has no presence or authority, which is particularly important in the context of fighting trans-continental networks. Hauschild affirmed his organization’s commitment to the European pact on drug trafficking and cooperation with Colombia and the United States in combating cocaine cartels at the source. Echoing others at the conference, he reiterated that Africa is gradually becoming not only a trans-shipment route, but a consumer market in its own right.

David Armond confirmed that Vargas Valencia’s observation on the rising prices and falling purity of illicit drugs in Mexico and the United States also holds true for the United Kingdom, with the caveat that more needs to be done about targeting drug trafficking in the early stages from source to transit, a priority reflected in the UK Organised Crime Control Strategy. By focusing efforts on disrupting the criminal supply chain at the source, Armond argued that the costs of enforcement would be borne entirely by the criminals themselves. In the long term, Armond said that SOCA aims to develop working relationships with regional partners, as they have done with Operation Westbridge (Ghana) and other initiatives. Armond further emphasized the importance of intelligence sharing to enhance interdiction capability.

Commander Hamza Umar spoke on the changing nature of the trans-Atlantic cocaine trade from the West African perspective. West Africa, Commander Umar said, is becoming a “consumer nation.” Cocaine is trafficked from South America to West Africa on board aircraft, small vessels, and above all container ships. Commander Umar described the phenomenon of home-based couriers working for close-knit, family-style organizations, as well as couriers based in Europe with legal student visas. Challenges facing the region include: absence of a regional intelligence coordination center; lack of operational patrol boats; rivalry among regional seaports; and overdependence on the government with not enough collaboration with the private sector. Drug trafficking has a negative impact on the region in terms of image, stability, corruption, and drug-related acts of terrorism (e.g. kidnapping). Commander Umar affirmed Nigeria’s commitment to taking a sub-regional leadership role in implementing international counternarcotics and anti-crime agreements.

Jairo Enrique Osorio offered insight into the Colombian cocaine supply chain from bottom to top. Growers, Osorio said, are the virtual slaves of “terrorist” cartels, forced to cultivate a plant with a destructive impact on local biodiversity. Colombian authorities currently use three methods to eradicate coca plants: providing economic support for growers seeking to switch to a different cash crop; forced eradication of crops; and herbicide. Once coca leaves are harvested, they are processed into paste at “kitchens” in the middle of the jungle. The paste is then purified in other remote locations, which the authorities attempt to locate using military intelligence. Osorio said that stopping raw material from reaching production areas is crucial to dismantling the supply chain. Eighty percent of shipments exit Colombia, which, with 6 million square nautical miles of coastline to protect, presents a challenge for law enforcement. Osorio underlined the importance of cooperation to attack every stage in the supply chain, in particular the exchange of information relating to maritime interdiction.

Patrick Espagnol presented on French actions to counter illicit drug trafficking from the Caribbean to West Africa. For this stage of the supply chain, France works primarily through the Dakar platform for international information exchange, the Central Office against Illegal Narcotics Trafficking in the Caribbean (OCRTIS), and the Centre de Coordination pour la Lutte Anti-Drogue en Mediterranée (CeCLAD). As traffickers step up their maritime activities, the French navy aggressively deployed its ships to protect local populations and seize shipments of illicit drugs in the Caribbean and elsewhere, a mission seen as complementary to the traditional mission of the French navy.


Wednesday, May 18

Examining the Threats: Major Challenges and Possible Responses


During the second day’s panel and breakout sessions, speakers provided greater detail on the major challenges confronting international efforts to disrupt and dismantle transnational illicit networks, from financial investigations to prosecutions.

Manuel Lopez Blanco, European External Action Service (EEAS) Director for West and Central Africa, focused the keynote address on the EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel. Lopez Blanco explained the complexity of challenges facing the region, including poverty, weak state capacity, lack of development, internal tensions, and widespread unemployment, all of which contributes to cross-border threats from terrorism (e.g. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)), religious radicalization, interlinked rebellions, and transnational organized crime.

The EU Sahel Strategy recognizes that security and development are interlinked, requiring a regional and comprehensive response with a geographic focus on Mauritania, Mali and Niger. In addition to strengthening rule of law and civil society, the Sahel Strategy aims to make the criminal economy and terrorism less attractive—or necessary—by increasing employment and other economic opportunities and strengthening the effectiveness of decentralized governments to provide services. The Sahel Strategy is guided by the notion of an African solution for African organized crime, and places great emphasis on the political will and leadership of Sahel countries and organizations.


Denying Safe Havens: Targeting Corruption and Illicit Financial Hubs

Chaired by US Ambassador Jane E. Becker, Senior Advisor, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), US Department of State, and Professor Jürgen Stock, Vice-President of the Federal Criminal Intelligence Office (BKA), Germany. Panelists: Robert McBrien, Associate Director, US Department of Treasury/Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC); Deborah Morrisey, Group Supervisor, Operation Cornerstone Money Laundering Group, US Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Hans Abma, Senior Policy Advisor International Criminal Cooperation, Ministry of Justice, Netherlands; Sandra Morelli, Comptroller General of Colombia; Ian Walton-George, Director, Investigations & Operations II, European Anti-Fraud Office, European Commission.

The panel on Denying Safe Havens: Targeting Corruption and Illicit Financial Hubs summary focused on targeting the factors that enable the transformation of gangs into networks. The ability to hit targets emotionally through asset forfeiture was highlighted. Panelists noted that an important goal of international cooperation must be the extension of jurisdiction through extra-territorial legal tools, which will help strengthen enforcement networks and national capacity. Panelists also agreed that there is a link between corruption, organized crime, prosperity, and good governance; poverty eradication efforts are pointless as long as crime and corruption provide barriers to investment.

Co-Chair Professor Jürgen Stock opened the session with strong words against corruption, calling for a broad interpretation of the word to include nepotism and kleptocracy, and severe punishment for corrupt officials to be a deterrent effect. He reminded participants that corruption is never an end in itself when organized crime is involved, but is always associated with further offenses.

Co-Chair Ambassador Jane E. Becker noted that there are two aspects to safe haven denial: operations and the policy support framework (for example, the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC)). Ambassador Becker also highlighted immigration laws as another means of preventing networks from forming in the first place by blocking criminals and their assets at their most vulnerable point: the border. To this end, Presidential Proclamation 7750, which denies entry to the US of persons involved in corruption and their families, has proven to be an effective tool.

Robert McBrien explained the logic and legal basis of targeted economic sanctions and clarified the implementation process run by the US Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Sanctions on corrupt individuals and entities are considered a “non-kinetic use of force” and “the hard edge of soft power.” They are an instrument of administrative, not criminal, law and require compliance, with criminal and civil penalties under legislation such as the US Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (1999). McBrien listed the objectives of economic sanctions as the “4Ds”: deny, disrupt, degrade, and delegitimize. The primary objective is to break the financial backbone of transnational organized crime and illicit actors, and to make the costs of corruption personal by confiscating prized assets. Sanctions can help reverse the criminal penetration of the legitimate economy, a major theme of the symposium. McBrien also emphasized the importance of international unity of effort as sanctions are becoming more and more an international tool.

Deborah Morrissey discussed another anti-corruption tool, the Foreign Public Corruption Task Force of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Its goal is two-fold: to take away the “toys” (gains) of corruption—or repatriate stolen funds—and deny safe havens in the US financial system to kleptocrats and corrupt foreign officials. For example, the Task Force may receive requests from Central American authorities for the recovery of assets of foreign officials in the US, which ICE can then confiscate. And under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a US citizen involved in corruption outside the US can also see his assets seized.

Hans Abma spoke on the link between organized crime, political corruption, and poor development, citing the findings of Jan van Dijk in his 2008 study “The World of Crime: Breaking the Silence on Problems of Security, Justice, and Development across the World.” “Where no rule of law exists,” said Abma, “poverty eradication is purposeless.” Organized crime and corruption serve as barriers to investment, and consequently slow development. Abma argued that aid should be redirected to improving governance, and working with leaders who have the political will to reform. Citing Singapore, Chile, Mauritius, Botswana, Taiwan, and Hong Kong as examples of countries that have successfully lifted themselves out of poverty by focusing on rule of law and anti-corruption efforts, Abma warned that the War on Drugs encourages corruption by failing to address the underlying conditions that drive people to engage in drug trafficking.

Sandra Morelli described the “critical moment” when private entities enter into contact with the state and engage in corrupt practices. In the past, this moment has occurred as states privatize national industries, a process that often occurs when the state is already under-resourced and thus vulnerable to corruption. The combination of a weak public sector and a strong private sector enables the misuse of public assets as private entities vie for lucrative state contracts. Morelli said that South American fiscal authorities are at a disadvantage compared to their European counterparts because they lack police powers and do not invoke existing international anti-corruption instruments. Colombian fiscal authorities, for example, cannot recover assets outside of Colombia without a judicial entity, leaving them somewhat toothless in the transnational fight against corruption.

Ian Walton-George illustrated the revenue side of the anti-corruption equation by focusing on how to prevent the loss of state tobacco revenues due to fraud. Emphasizing “unity of effort,” he outlined the legal basis for EU-US cooperation, the 1997 EU/US Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters and the January 2010 Cooperation Arrangement with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Walton-George offered several examples of successful cooperation in cigarette smuggling cases, including RANA and RICO cases, the ongoing MIAMI and ANNE SCAN cases, the BARRIE case (finalized in 2010). Walton-George stated that impediments to success include disconnects between investigators and prosecutors, and the “Robin Hood” image of cigarette smugglers who are mistakenly viewed as heroes. He noted that it is in the interest of both the United States and the European Union to arrive at a strong Protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products as part of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) by 2012.


Joint Investigations

Chaired by Nicola Conforti, Carabinieri General Headquarters, International Cooperation Office, Italy. Panelists: James Soiles, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Special Operations Division, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Steve Harvey, Senior Specialist, EUROPOL; Facundo Rosas Rosas, Mexican Federal Police, Executive Secretary of AMERIPOL; Dimitrios Souxes, Operations Coordinator, INTERPOL; Austin Rowan, Head of Unit Customs II, European Anti-Fraud Office, European Commission, and Deborah Morrisey, Group Supervisor, Operation Cornerstone Money Laundering Group, US Department of Homeland Security/Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Chair Nicola Conforti called for the development of a comprehensive approach to dismantling transnational illicit networks from the political/strategic level down to the tactical level. He also described the crime-terror nexus as economic-driven, “customer-oriented,” and adaptable, much like a “criminal supermarket” in terms of diversity of products (types of crime.

James Soiles confirmed the convergence of crime and terrorism in West Africa and elsewhere, and offered examples of best practices in combating this trend, including integrating efforts by analysts and investigators. He described the Bilateral Investigations Unit (BIU) of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which works with foreign counterparts to investigate, arrest, and convict high-value targets. Soiles explained the legal scope of US extra-territorial jurisdiction (e.g., aimed at Colombian cartels and targeting the insurgent-drug trafficking nexus in Afghanistan). He illustrated the convergence of terrorist groups and drug trafficking networks, including cooperation between Colombian drug trafficking organizations, Lebanese cash smuggling, and extremist groups such as Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Steve Harvey discussed the European experience of joint international investigation. He described EUROPOL’s support for join investigations teams (JITs) and operational support, including a “mobile office” to share intelligence in real time and provide technical analysis. There are currently thirteen JITs supported by EUROPOL across many crime areas including trafficking in human beings, cigarette smuggling, money laundering, piracy, and cybercrime. Harvey stressed that “Day 1 is crucial” to set the tone for interagency and international cooperation from the beginning of an operation.

Facundo Rosas Rosas explained the dynamics of major Mexican cartels. Although there is a high profit margin to be earned for cocaine in the United States, Rosas Rosas warned, as borders tighten in response to drug trafficking, violence and consumption move closer to the origin of the illicit goods. He also described the efforts of the Mexican government to fight drug trafficking, including limits placed on imports of chemical precursors. Above all, Rosas Rosas stressed the importance of sharing regional tools and conducting joint operations to fight the “new” trends in drug trafficking; for example, the trade in local synthetic drugs using materials imported from abroad.

Dimitrios Souxes, a Greek police officer seconded to INTERPOL, described operational support to South America through INTERPOL’s Operation INFRA-SA (International Fugitives Round-Up and Arrest – South America) launched in Buenos Aires in March 2011. INFRA-SA is currently pursuing over 200 fugitives wanted by 34 countries. Souxes indicated that the next campaign would be INFRA-SEA (International Fugitives Round-Up and Arrest – Southeast Asia), which beginning in November 2011 will focus on child sex offenders in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and the Philippines.

Austin Rowan and Deborah Morrisey provided a joint presentation on the successes of international cooperation in the fight against transnational organized crime. They focused on a case involving a cigarette smuggling ring that required the creation of a joint US-EU investigation team. In this investigation, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) partnered with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because although the loss in revenue affected only European countries, the United States served as a key transit point for the contraband cigarettes. Rowan and Morrisey reinforced Harvey’s point that it is crucial to determine an appropriate chain of command and cooperation structure early on in an investigation to ensure smooth cooperation over time.


Fighting Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings

Chaired by James Chaparro, Assistant Director, Office of Intelligence, US Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Manuel Albano, National Commission for Citizenship & Gender Equality, Portugal. Panelists: Pierre Reuland, Special Representative of INTERPOL to the European Union, INTERPOL; Bernd Hemingway, International Organization for Migration Regional Representative, Brussels Office; Teresa McHenry, Unit Chief, US Department of Justice/Criminal Division/Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP); Myria Vassiliadou, EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, DG Home Affairs, European Commission; Simon Egede, Executive Secretary, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Nigeria.

Co-Chair Manuel Albano branded trafficking in human beings a “new form of slavery,” while Co-Chair James Chaparro reiterated that the best way to fight human trafficking and smuggling networks is through networks that bring together both government agencies and NGOs—agencies to go after the criminals, and NGOs to care for the victims.

Pierre Reuland presented a short video to contextualize the problem of migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings.

Bernd Hemingway followed up with a presentation on the role of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). He noted that human smuggling and trafficking are converging with other transnational organized crimes. For example, IOM is now witnessing the same boats that traffic women from Somalia to Yemen are now carrying arms back to Somalia for use in armed conflict and piracy there. Hemingway outlined the magnitude of trafficking in human beings and noted that it is above all a lucrative business for traffickers, with very low risk of being caught or penalized. He presented IOM’s “3+1 P” approach to dismantling trafficking networks: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution + Partnership. With 20,000+ victims to care for, Hemingway cited civil society partnerships as particularly valuable. In the post-panel discussion, Hemingway urged participants to be aware of the “feminization” of migrant smuggling for labor exploitation, as many of the industries exploiting migrant labor are now service-oriented.

Teresa McHenry clarified the difference between migrant smuggling (the largely voluntary illegal movement of people across borders) and trafficking in human beings (involuntary). Revenue for smugglers comes from two sources, she said: smuggling fees and “ransom” that migrants are forced to pay to smugglers after they have crossed the border. Smuggling has a destabilizing effect on rule of law since it relies on corruption to be successful. Like Hemingway, McHenry observed a convergence of threats: migrants forced to smuggle drugs, women sexually abused en route, and the smuggling of al-Shabaab terrorists to the United States. Repeating the idea that “Day 1 is crucial,” she suggested that the most effective way to dismantle smuggling networks is cooperation between prosecutors and investigators early on.

Myria Vassiliadou presented an overview of the EU approach to smuggling and trafficking of human beings. She reiterated that the key word is “partnerships,” especially between governments and NGOs and private entities such as victim support groups. Vassiliadou informed participants that recent EU legislation on trafficking in human beings takes a zero-tolerance approach, provides a common definition of crime that is new for the European Union, and calls for more punishment for crimes such as the use of false documents. New legislation also offers the possibility to prosecute EU nationals for crimes committed in other countries. An informal network already exists in the EU with one national rapporteur from each Member State, a forum for exchanging information and data that she is chairing herself with the EU Presidency. She reiterated the need for greater cooperation across borders and cited the EU-AU Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, Especially Women and Children (2006) as one successful example.

Simon Egede presented on anti-trafficking efforts in West Africa, focusing on Nigeria. He said that there had been no such trafficking of human beings from Africa since the abolition of slavery until the 1990s, after which it took some time for NGOs to recognize the problem. In 2003, Nigeria adopted the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act (TIPLEA) as an instrument complementary to the related UNTOC Protocol and other international conventions. That same year, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP) was created with the mandate to combat trafficking in human beings. Egede reiterated Hemingway’s “Prevention, Protection, Prosecution + Partnership” approach to the issue, and said that although international cooperation with Europe has been successful, cooperation at the West Africa sub-regional level was still lacking. He cited as remaining challenges the clandestine nature of the trade, the reluctance of victims to talk, the lack of effective biometric technology, the deportation of victims rather than traffickers, and lack of legislation and budget capacity.


Transnational Trends in Illicit Finance: Money Laundering, Illicit Finance and Bulk Cash Smuggling

Chaired by Kristen Hecht, Policy Advisor & Liaison to AFRICOM, Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, US Department of the Treasury, and Lieutenant Colonel Tullio Gervasio, Head of Unit for Money Laundering, Terrorism and Protection of Financial Market by Illicit Activities, Guardia di Finanza, Italy. Panelists: Dr. Abdullahi Shehu, Director General of GIABA (Inter Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa); David May, Assistant Regional Director, Europe & Africa Region, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Alejandro Montesdeoca, Secretary General, GAFISUD (Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering in South America); Burkhard Muehl, EUROPOL, Secretariat for Camden Assets Recovery Inter-Agency Network (CARIN); Craig Sorrie, Money Laundering Coordinator, Proceeds of Crime, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Co-Chair Lt. Col. Tullio Gervasio offered a brief introduction to the session before passing the baton to Kristen Hecht, who provided an overview of her office, which leads the US delegation to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and FATF-style regional bodies and the functions of the FATF, including the international review process. Hecht spoke about converging threats, using the example of the Lebanese-Canadian Bank, a transnational case involved the convergence of money laundering, corruption, terrorism and drug trafficking.

Dr. Abdullahi Shehu offered an overview of the scope of illicit financial flows, noting that between 1970 and 2008, African countries lost more revenue than they received in foreign aid. Dr. Shehu described the mission of the Inter Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a FATF-style body operational since 2005 that is part of the regional framework for combating illicit financial flows. He identified several challenges facing GIABA in the early stages of its development such as low member state compliance, spotty customer identification and monitoring, limited political attention to money laundering and terrorist financing, and under-resourced control institutions. He noted several successes, most notably the fact that all GIABA members states have passed anti-money laundering (AML)/countering financing of terrorism (CFT) legislation. He closed by observing that most proceeds of crime from Africa are stored in foreign financial institutions and requested technical assistance for developing countries combating illicit financial flows.

David May argued that law enforcement can inflict the most damage on the financial infrastructure of drug trafficking organizations at the proceeds repatriation stage. May described DEA’s undercover money pick-up (MPU) operations, which involve penetrating the drug trafficking organization, laundering money for the organization as part of the operation (with Department of Justice authorization), and transferring the money via undercover bank accounts. He called this process “investigative exploitation,” or the handing over of criminal proceeds in order to personally identify criminals and obtain their phone numbers for tracing. Interagency and multilateral cooperation is crucial at each stage of the operation. May warned that it is crucial for undercover agents to quickly obtain authorization to hand over criminal proceeds in a timely manner, otherwise the subjects of the investigation will turn to “competitors” in the money laundering industry.

Alejandro Montesdeoca began with a brief history of GAFISUD, a FATF-style regional body in South America. Since starting from zero in 2000, GAFISUD member states have achieved several successes, including the criminalization of money laundering connected to drug trafficking; the creation of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs); obligatory Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs); and the criminalization of terrorist financing. Montesdeoca stressed the need for greater focus on asset recovery, since South American judicial systems typically target only the criminals themselves, not their proceeds. GAFISUD, with the support of Germany, is currently drawing up a regional risk analysis of money laundering in the non-banking financial sector for designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs). Montesdeoca highlighted the creation of GAFISUD’s asset recovery network, RRAG (Red de Recuperación de Activos de GAFISUD), with the support of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the Organization of American States (CICAD/OAS). The network brings together the prosecution and investigation sides to identify, track, and recover criminal assets.

Burkhard Muehl described the role of EUROPOL and the Camden Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network (CARIN) in asset recovery. The European Criminal Assets Bureau (ECAB) of EUROPOL targets decision-makers within criminal organizations and views asset recovery as a deterrent to crime insofar as it dispels the belief that crime pays. In addition to holding the permanent Secretariat of CARIN, ECAB oversees a network of Asset Recovery Offices which cooperate with one another through the EUROPOL SIENA System. CARIN, on the other hand, is an informal network of English-speaking practitioners that corresponds to ARINSA (Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network of Southern Africa) and RRAG (Red de la Recuperación de Activos de GAFISUD). CARIN facilitates the exchange of ideas, information, and general advice; organizes asset recovery training events; transmits operational requests between investigators and prosecutors in different jurisdictions; and provides access to the website of the EUROPOL Financial Crime Information Centre (FCIC). To those who say, “Fight networks with networks,” Muehl responded, “Fight networks with CARIN.”

Craig Sorrie gave an in-depth presentation on a specific trend: the movement of funds between Guyana (a transit point for cocaine to North America and Europe) and Canada. The central issue in this case is foreign currency trading by cambios (dealers) using Canada to exchange funds and wire the money overseas. Sorrie indicated that the level of activity is increasing and requested any additional intelligence from the plenary that would link these financial activities to predicate offences such as drug trafficking.


Maritime Responses

Chaired by Barry Clarke, Senior Manager, Military and Maritime Intervention Cell, UK Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), and John R. Raidt, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council. Panelists: Joaquim Pereira, Director of the National Unit for Fighting Drug Trafficking, Portugal; Conor Shields, Operations Manager, Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre - Narcotics, (MAOC-N); Louis Orsini, Senior Maritime Law Enforcement Advisor, US Coast Guard; David Asante-Appeatu, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ghana; Dr. Roger Bencze, Chief, International Affairs Division, US Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S).

Co-Chair John R. Raidt categorized the primary maritime criminal threats as “3Ts” (terror, theft of oil, and trafficking) and “3Ps” (piracy, pollution, and poaching). He urged the international community to leverage legal instruments, material assets, training capacity, and other collective resources to build “domain awareness,” an emergency response system, and rule of law in areas where it is lacking. Raidt said that the pillars of any new strategy ought to be better strategic planning combined with regional coordination, especially the sharing of assets such as boats. He encouraged participants to engage with the private sector where necessary and to begin coordinating action without “waiting for the next level up” to sign off.

Co-Chair Barry Clarke reiterated Ambassador Brownfield’s observation that drug traffickers are changing their tactics in response to every action the international law enforcement community takes. He noted that the adaptability of criminals makes it difficult to measure success, but that this should not be a deterrent.

Joaquim Pereira noted that Portugal occupies a geostrategic location for drug traffickers thanks to its long coastline and position as a gateway into Europe from Africa and the Atlantic Ocean. Portuguese response efforts focus on the centralization of information under the Polícia Judiciária, National Unit for Fighting Drug Trafficking (UNCTE). Portugal cooperates with Europol , Interpol, Centre de Coordination pour la Lutte Anti-Drogue en Mediterranée (CeCLAD-M), and MAOC-N, and places liaison officers in South America and Portuguese-speaking African Countries (PALOP). Pereira explained that the bulk of cocaine and hashish seizures take place at sea, and noted that traffickers are increasingly using container ships and legitimate cargo to conceal drug shipments. He agreed with other panelists that systematic information sharing, legal instruments, and judicial cooperation are necessary tools in the fight against drug trafficking at sea.

Conor Shields explained that the concept of MAOC-N is based on the sharing of assets and resources. MAOC-N, he said, deals with “uncanalized traffic,” not shipments with scheduled arrival times and other features of legitimate international maritime commerce. Although he acknowledged that law enforcement is generally “three to four years behind the drug traffickers,” Shields expressed confidence in the MAOC-N model: law enforcement with military support. He was particularly pleased with the number of successful prosecutions to which MAOC-N’s efforts have contributed, by connecting with African partners providing assistance and assets. However, Shields warned that counternarcotics efforts still have not obtained the same level of political commitment as counterpiracy efforts, which are similarly based on a civil-military partnership. Shields stressed the need for more information to bridge the intelligence gap, and noted that national militaries that already have a maritime presence can be of great help in this area, as can the intelligence community, embassy staff, ship pilots, and others.

Louis Orsini explained the strong linkage between maritime law enforcement and a nation’s ability to enhance national security and economic vitality. To this point, he demonstrated the criticality of effective maritime law enforcement to security in Africa. He acknowledged that laws and resources vary from country to country, but insisted that every country needs to be able to recognize the gaps “because the drug traffickers do.” Orsini spoke of the “tyranny of time and distance” as the primary challenge in patrolling vast oceans, especially now that drug traffickers are beginning to redistribute large loads into smaller, easy-to-conceal shipments. He lauded the sharing of assets, but warned that donating material is useless without follow-up support and sustainment, citing donated inoperable patrol boats propped up on blocks because the receiving countries did not have the resources and/or capability to maintain them. Finally, Orsini remarked that leveraging bilateral agreements can be very effective in preventing smugglers from violating national sovereign waters to escape, while also noting that approximately 50 percent of US Coast Guard seizures since 2000 have been conducted by law enforcement officers deployed on board US Navy or allied ships.

David Asante-Appeatu spoke about the risks and conflicts of interest generated by Ghana’s recent discovery of off-shore oil reserves. With the discovery of oil, the Ghana Police Service took responsibility for maritime operations for the first time and are now responsible for: protecting life and property off the coast of Ghana; providing emergency response to terrorist threats; taking a proactive/reactive approach to crime, including drug trafficking; protecting fisheries from criminal exploitation; and prosecuting offenders. The police engage in training exercises with the US Embassy and the US Navy. Asante-Appeatu said that the police currently take a community policing approach to crime, but lack the proper resources and skills to be completely effective.

Dr. Roger Bencze described the integrated command structure of JIATF-S, which brings together officers from international and US agencies and armed forces. Noting that JIATF-S receives 80 percent of its intelligence from US law enforcement partners and allies such as SOCA and the Central Office against Illegal Narcotics Trafficking (OCRTIS), Dr. Bencze outlined the “Detection and Monitoring/Interception and Apprehension” information flow continuum, which covers every step of the process from threat detection to prosecution. The backbone of this continuum is an “integrated information architecture” that includes Tactical Analysis Teams (TATs) and Liaison Officers working with MAOC-N. Two integral pieces of this system are a Participating Nations Network (PNN) a limited protected website that includes a real-time translation tool similar to Google Translate and a Counternarcotics Intelligence Exchange System (CNIES), which enhances the PNN by releasing air and maritime unclassified information to participating nations. Referring to these two mechanisms, Dr. Bencze remarked, “information sharing can be done.”


Implementing International Legal Frameworks & Cooperation
(UNTOC, UNCAC, MLATs, Networks)

Chaired by Gordon Duguid, Executive Director, Organization of American States, Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (OAS/CICTE), and Dr. Vincenzo Delicato, International Relations Service, Ministry of Interior, Italy. Panelists: Pierre Lapaque, Chief, Implementation Support Section, Organized Crime Branch, Division for Treaty Affairs, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); Donald Ashley, Associate Director, US Department of Justice/Office of International Affairs (OIA); Victor Moreno Catena, Secretary General, Conferencia de Ministros de Justicia de los Países Iberoamericanos (COMJIB); Luiz Pontel de Souza, Police Attaché, Federal Police, Brazil; José Ferreira Leite, Director, Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre-Narcotics (MAOC-N).

The panel on Implementing International Legal Frameworks and Cooperation presented challenges that remain in spite of widespread adoption of conventions such as the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC). Panelists cited a lack of political will as the reason for any lack of implementation, and identified strong central legal authorities, bilateral agreements, mutual legal assistance, and informal information exchange arrangements as effective instruments to complement the existing international legal framework.

Co-Chair Gordon Duguid explained the work of the Organization of American States (OAS) vis-à-vis the implementation of the international legal framework against transnational organized crime. Co-Chair Dr. Vincenzo Delicato identified two predominant philosophies in the fight against transnational organized crime: first, a unilateral, extra-territorial legal framework providing for the international application of national laws; second, international cooperation supported by bilateral agreements and multilateral conventions such as the UNCAC, UNTOC, and others.

Pierre Lapaque outlined UNODC’s role in implementing three key legal instruments in the fight against transnational organized crime: the UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988), UNTOC (2000), and UNCAC (2003). Lapaque highlighted the breakthrough asset recovery provisions of the UNCAC and the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) World Bank/UNODC initiative, which aims to build the capacity of prosecuting agencies, financial intelligence units, and other relevant bodies. Finally, Lapaque delivered an overview of mutual legal assistance, which he called a key weapon of the justice system—provided acceptance is obligatory.

Donald Ashley identified three pillars of an efficient and practical legal cooperation framework: a broad framework for providing legal assistance; an active and effective central authority to make and receive requests; and full utilization of informal mechanisms and channels. A central authority “should not function simply as a mailbox” but should be a single entity that is easily accessible 24/7, adequately staffed, fully equipped, and supported by domestic prosecutors, judges, and police officers. Ashley defended the legality of informal cooperation, including “spontaneous sharing of evidence,” which is permitted under Article 18(4) of UNTOC and limited only by lack of political will. Ashley concluded with suggestions on how to maximize limited resources by seeking alternative sources of funding, conducting short-term exchanges of liaison police officers and prosecutors, and keeping support staff small and efficient.

Victor Moreno Catena argued that a sovereignty-based approach to international law enforcement is no longer effective against transnational organized crime. He recommended greater harmonization of policies and reforms through conventions, international frameworks like the G8+ Ministerial, and mechanisms such as video conferencing. Moreno Catena noted that the common threat of organized crime has the power to overcome a lack of international integration. He referenced the Ibero-American Legal Assistance Network (IberRed) as an example of this process. IberRED seeks to enhance transnational legal cooperation between judges, prosecutors, officials of Ministries of Justice and central authorities of the 21 Ibero-American countries. The network facilitates making evidence available between countries and implementation of bilateral and multilateral legal frameworks, including extradition agreements. He cited cooperation between IberRED and Eurojust and the European Judicial Network.

Luiz Pontel de Souza identified cocaine, crack, and cannabis as the three substances most heavily trafficked through Brazil thanks to its strategic position on sea and air routes to West Africa and Europe, its vast network of waterways, dense forests, long coastline, and plethora of airports. He explained that border security is a priority for the Brazilian Federal Police, and is the focus of technological investment (such using unmanned aircraft to patrol the borders) and interagency cooperation. Pontel de Souza said that Brazil has concluded bilateral agreements with Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, and Colombia, which have led to law enforcement/border security successes.

José Ferreira Leite explained that MAOC-N aims to establish an information exchange platform with a view to detaining vessels and aircraft, relying on agreements with third countries, flag states, and criminal jurisdiction on ships. He noted that flag state jurisdiction concerns make joint operations doubly important in dismantling the maritime link of transnational networks and cited the Caribbean as an area where such coordination has been achieved while still protecting the sovereignty of participating states.


Thursday, May 19

Next Steps: The Way Forward and International Cooperation


Geneviève Bourdin, Diplomatic Advisor for the French Interior Ministry, reported on the G8 Ministerial conference on trans-Atlantic cocaine trafficking, which brought together 22 states and 10 international organizations earlier in May 2011. Bourdin lauded the success of the conference at the political level in terms of the articulation of common interests and the development of common guidelines, including several “landmark principles”: joint responsibility, an integrated approach, and the global nature of the trade. Bourdin also conveyed the Plan of Action created at the conference:

1. Stronger implementation of legal conventions against drug trafficking,

2. Improved intelligence collection using existing platforms and possibly creating new ones,

3. Facilitation of maritime interceptions,

4. Identification and confiscation of criminal assets, for example through the Camden Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network (CARIN),

5. Countering the destabilizing effects of cocaine trafficking and consumption,

6. Stronger state/unit capabilities, and

7. Financial support for initiatives decided at the conference, such as an international trust fund fed by criminal assets once confiscated.


Improving Border Security and Border Control

Chaired by Joseph Oliver, Chief Superintendent, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Dr. Luigi Iandoli, Immigration Service, Ministry of Interior, Italy. Panelists: Luisa Maia Gonçalves, Head of the General Directorate of the Investigation, Research and Data Analysis, Portugal; Brad E. Schultz, Assistant Director, National Targeting Center, US Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection (CBP); Werner Ovalle Ramirez, Central American Integration System (SICA); Harald Arm, Assistant Director for Operational Police Support, INTERPOL; William Kullman, Deputy Chief, US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), International Affairs; Pierre Bertrand, Principal Technical Administrator, Compliance and Facilitation Directorate, World Customs Organization (WCO).

In the panel on Improving Border Security and Border Control, speakers discussed regional initiatives to enhance border security and described measures such as tracking fraudulent travel documents and tracing trafficked firearms. Panelists noted that border security has a two-fold mission: securing borders against illicit trafficking in persons and goods while facilitating the entry of legitimate goods and legal migrants. All agreed that intelligence sharing— before a criminal crosses a border, while a criminal is at the border, and after a criminal enters — is key to secure borders.

Co-Chair Dr. Luigi Iandoli outlined the central dilemma of the panel: balancing the need to secure borders with the need to facilitate legitimate trade and passage.

Co-Chair Joseph Oliver suggested that border security ought to be about “working smarter, not harder.” He stressed pre-border, at-border, and post-border steps, and emphasized the central role of intelligence in segregating legitimate trade and immigration from illicit trafficking.

Luisa Maia Gonçalves said that the internal border openness within the EU means that external borders must be doubly secure. She noted that several European agencies collaborate to this end, including Frontex, EUROPOL, and National SIRENE Bureaus (Supplementary Information Request at the National Entry), which is an information exchange system within the Schengen zone. On the technological front, Gonçalves described the Portuguese e-Passport system, and the PASSE entry and exit system. She pointed to recent trends in border-related violations such as sham marriages, trafficking in human beings for labor, forgery, and cybercrime, some of which are addressed by recent amendments to the Portuguese Immigration Act.

Brad E. Schultz reiterated the dual mission of border security authorities to enhance security while facilitating the legitimate movement of people and goods across borders. After a snapshot of “A Day at the US Border,” Schultz explained that one of the objectives of US CBP is expand border security through international partnerships, and collaboration in areas such as illicit migration and threat identification. For the former, the United States participates in the Caribbean Advanced Passenger Information System with Caribbean states , the Immigration Advisory Program to prevent terrorists and other illicit travelers from boarding commercial aircraft, and the Carrier Liaison Program. He described threat identification programs, including: a tactical information sharing operation targeting drug trafficking organizations operating between the United States, EU, and West Africa; the Container Security Initiative; and training and technical assistance for Ghanaian, Nigerian, and Senegalese border control officials (West Africa Border Initiative or WABI).

Speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System (SICA), Werner Ovalle Ramirez described two phenomena affecting Central America: a high level of criminality and violence and aggressive action by organized criminal groups to gain territorial control. He explained that Central American countries are currently re-assessing the risks and threats facing the region, and have recently produced a Central American Security Strategy which provides an integrated regional response to crime. Countries cooperate both bilaterally and through the US Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) at the regional level. In June 2011, Ovalle Ramirez said that Central American states would continue to build international cooperation at the International Conference for Strategic Security Support in Central America.

Harald Arm described INTERPOL’s initiative to enhance border management and security, the Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database. Through STLD, INTERPOL has linked 26,629 travel documents to international fugitives. He also described the Dial-Doc (Digital INTERPOL Alert Library) and EdisonTD programs, which are available to law enforcement officials through INTERPOL’s I-24/7 communications system and website, and a biometrics database that INTERPOL is developing to track fraudulent travel documents.

William Kullman outlined several tools to combat firearms trafficking, the most effective of which is firearms tracing. Tracing helps link suspects to guns, identify traffickers, and detect patterns in sources and types of guns used in crimes. “A weapon is an informant,” said Kullman as he detailed the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Comprehensive Crime Gun Tracing Initiative and web-based e-Trace system. More than 22,000 law enforcement agencies, including 30 countries (now 31) have e-Trace. Kullman encouraged participants to leverage ATF’s resources and e-Trace, noting that the system is comprehensive, free and user-friendly.

Pierre Bertrand discussed Project AIRCOP, a joint UNODC-WCO-INTERPOL project financed by the European Commission and Canada. AIRCOP enables real-time operational and secured communication between European and African airports, with projected expansion to South America and the Caribbean, using WCO’s CENcomm and INTERPOL’s I-24/7. He described the Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs), which bring together customs and law enforcement agencies to work together in select airports (in West Africa and Brazil). Bertrand indicated that the goal is to make AIRCOP available to all countries and described two related Operation COCAIR projects to detect and seize drugs.


Strengthening International Cooperation, Capacity, and Global Partnerships on Combating Transnational Threats

Chaired by Brooke Stearns Lawson, Counter Narcotics and Crime Advisor, USAID, and Peter Storr, Director, International Directorate, Home Office, UK. Panelists: Carl Alexandre, Director, Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Training (OPDAT), US Department of Justice; Pierre Reuland, Special Representative of INTERPOL to the European Union, INTERPOL; Pierre Cléostrate, Security Policy Division, European External Action Service (EEAS); General Charles Okae (Ret.), Director of Peace and Security, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); Adriana Mejia-Hernandez, Director of the Department of Public Security, Organization of American States (OAS); Thomas Pastor, Secretary, International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

Carl Alexandre expressed the US Department of Justice’s commitment to assisting partner countries with criminal justice reform. The main providers of technical assistance and training at the Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training (OPDAT) and the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP). OPDAT assists foreign prosecution, investigative, and judicial bodies to develop effective criminal justice programs, while ICITAP focuses on police and prisons specifically. Funded by the US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), these programs are currently active in 70 countries. At the core of OPDAT are Resident Legal Advisors who assist host countries develop legislation, institute justice sector reform, and develop prosecutorial and judicial skills. OPDAT is currently partnering with ten international organizations, including UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the EU, OAS, and the African Union (AU).

Pierre Reuland discussed how INTERPOL is changing its strategy towards crime to reflect former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s “three pillars” for West Africa: peace and security; development; and human rights and the rule of law. INTERPOL and the EU held a symposium on police cooperation in West Africa in Brussels in October 2010. Reuland warned that the situation is not improving and that there remains a pressing need to build basic police capacities in all West African countries so that no single state becomes a weak link to be exploited by criminals. He described INTERPOL’s West African Police Information System (WAPIS), which consists of 16 national platforms for police information exchange.

Pierre Cléostrate broke down the EEAS’s Instrument for Stability (IfS), designed to address the security and development challenges identified by the EU External Security Strategy, into three elements:

1. A rapid crisis response mechanism,

2. Longer-term European Community actions to counter global and trans-regional threats such as organized crime and terrorism, and

3. Capacity-building measures to strengthen international organizations and non-state actors.

The Long-Term Component (2007-2013) of the IfS aims to build capacity and support interagency and international synergies on the basis of complementarity; that is, to be deployed only when a threat cannot be addressed by another instrument. In West Africa, for example, the IfS provides for European assistance to ECOWAS in implementing the Praia Response Plan (2008). IfS also involves the SEACOP Project to strengthen cooperation (e.g. joint operations and intelligence sharing) against cocaine trafficking in West Africa, and supports Project AIRCOP. Cléostrate emphasized the complementarity principle, which governs all IfS activities involving the crime-terror nexus in the Sahel, the reinforcement of the Inter Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), the establishment of AMERIPOL, support for GAFISUD, and other programs.

Speaking on behalf of ECOWAS, General Charles Okae (Ret.) discussed the crime-terror nexus in West Africa. Gen. Okae described West Africa as a safe haven for illicit actors of all stripes thanks to its natural resources, low population density, strategic location on trafficking routes, weak rule of law, abundance of desperate “henchmen,” and ongoing threats such as civil wars, piracy, and small arms proliferation. Gen. Okae illuminated the origins, key players, and standard operating procedures of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which he said is now seeking to diversify its revenue by tapping cocaine routes through the Sahel. Other terrorist groups active in the region include the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and Boko Haram. Gen. Okae then outlined the legal framework and military/police structures within ECOWAS responsible for security, singling out GIABA as the best-organized of the legal regimes. He stated that political will to counter crime and terrorism exists in West Africa, but added that the region needs of technical assistance.

Adriana Mejia-Hernandez spoke on institutional capacity development and citizen security in the Americas. She described OAS countries as “a region of contrasts,” with some of the highest and lowest homicide rates in the world. After a decade of crime expansion in the region, Mejia-Hernandez outlined several lessons learned, including the importance of community interaction, interagency coordination, transcending the political debate, working within a democratic framework, managing expectations, strengthening institutions, and improving data collection and assessment. Many of these depend more on political will than budget appropriations, she said. The Inter-American Approach developed by the OAS draws on these lessons as it calls for harmonizing legal and crime prevention instruments, with an emphasis on drug treatment programs.

Thomas Pastor spoke on behalf of the UN International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Pastor reiterated the impression among many participants that some states—especially Guatemala—appear to be losing the monopoly on the legitimate use of force. He warned that the “drug state…could well be the future” for Guatemala, and urged states in similar straits to regain “fronts” such as salaries so that cartels do not move in and impose their own laws.


The Way Forward: Fighting Networks with Networks and Building Capacity

Chaired by David M. Luna, Director, Transnational Criminal Threats and Illicit Networks, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), US Department of State. Speakers: Waldemar Krawczyk, Head, International Operations Unit, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Police Headquarters, Poland; US Ambassador to Portugal Allan J. Katz.

Waldemar Krawczyk outlined the EU policy cycle on organized crime and serious international crime that would take effect when Poland assumed the EU presidency on July 1, 2011. The policy cycle consists of four phases:

1. Development of policy based on EUROPOL’s Serious Organized Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA).

2. Establishment of priorities and multi-annual strategic plans.

3. Preparation of operational action plans.

4. Evaluation.

One priority, for example, is to prepare an EU pact on synthetic drugs, while another is to promote cooperation in countering drug crime with Eastern European countries. A conference on drugs will be held in Warsaw in July 2011 to allow EU Member States, Eastern European countries (including Russia), and international organizations such as INTERPOL to exchange information and strengthen cooperation. The Polish presidency will focus on the issue of synthetic drugs, with activities aimed at drugs, precursor chemicals, and tobacco smuggling.

Ambassador Allan J. Katz reaffirmed the need to work together to leverage resources, knowledge, and expertise to disrupt and dismantle illicit networks. He identified three “streams of cooperation” for the way forward:

1. A comprehensive and common understanding of criminal activities and emerging crime trends through information sharing and increased cooperation.

2. Effective law enforcement practices and mutual legal assistance in investigating and prosecuting corruption and organized illicit networks.

3. Training and synchronized capacity-building efforts to maximize the impact of law enforcement assistance in the face of increasingly limited resources.

Above all, information sharing and internalizing the concept of “fighting networks with networks” are the keys to achieving making international cooperation a reality.


Tomas Dupla Del Moral thanked the chairs, speakers, participants, security, staff, and sponsors of the Symposium. He explained that the intention of the organizers was to build a shared commitment to inter-regional collaboration to meet the challenge of “Fighting Networks with Networks,” and declared that that objective had been met.

Dupla Del Moral then summarized the major challenges and threats highlighted during the course of the proceedings, including: the diversification of criminal interests; criminal penetration of the licit world through safe havens and corruption; the increasingly transnational and adaptable nature of organized crime; the crime-terror nexus; and the need for proactive measures. In response to these threats, Dupla Del Moral identified a number of areas where increased cooperation could lead to practical outcomes, including: building trust between agencies; establishing an informal trans-Atlantic network; mutual legal assistance; intelligence sharing; and incentivizing the “need to know” culture into a “need to share” attitude. He then briefly summarized the conclusions of each session. He also mentioned preventive measures such as demand reduction, awareness raising and education aspects on which the Symposium was not focused but which were important.

Finally, Dupla Del Moral reiterated that “fighting transnational crime and dismantling illicit networks is not something that any one government can do alone.” He urged participants to consider the outcome of the Symposium in the context of the G8 Political Declaration, which made political commitments to fighting trans-Atlantic cocaine trafficking. He expressed his hope that the “network of networks” would become a reality after the Symposium, and reminded participants that their contact details would be made available to all to facilitate the creation of such a network.


1. More than 300 senior law enforcement and other government officials from over 65 countries on both sides of the Atlantic – including from the Americas, West Africa, and Europe – as well as representatives of regional and international organizations, attended the Trans-Atlantic Symposium on Dismantling Transnational Illicit Networks (Symposium) in Lisbon from 16-19 May 2011.

2. The Symposium was co-hosted by the European Union (EU) and the United States, and organized by the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the US Department of State. Participants also warmly thanked the Government of Portugal, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), and the Maritime Analysis and Operation Centre-Narcotics (MAOC-N) for their hospitality and support.

3. The over-arching theme for the Symposium was “Fighting Networks with Networks”, to highlight a shared commitment to inter-regional collaboration to combat the transnational criminal threats and illicit networks that have become increasingly prominent across the trans-Atlantic region, especially in West Africa.

4. Participants pointed out a number of evolving trends of increasing concern:

• In recent years, transnational threats and networks have converged in more dangerous and destabilizing ways. Criminal networks are expanding and diversifying their activities, smuggling billions of dollars of illegal goods into our jurisdictions, trafficking in drugs, arms, and humans, smuggling counterfeit products, as well as embezzling public funds and bulk cash derived from criminal enterprises. These activities cost our economies jobs and tax revenue and endanger the safety and welfare of our people.

• Transnational criminal and illicit networks are moving between the licit and illicit worlds, creating safe havens and hubs from which to export their illicit trade. In the process, they weaken trust and integrity in justice, markets, and communities alike. By allying themselves with corrupt elements of national governments, especially in states with economies and political institutions in transition, and using those elements to further their criminal activities, they undermine regional security and prosperity.

• Today’s organized crime networks are also becoming more transnational and trans-regional in nature. They are agile and can adapt to the countermeasures taken by individual states or groups of states. A coordinated response at the trans-regional level is thus necessary to contain, disrupt and dismantle these networks effectively.

• These converging threats include: drug flows between Latin America, West Africa, and Europe; illicit financial flows between West Africa, South America and Europe; human smuggling; trafficking in persons; money laundering/illicit finance; the illicit trafficking in small arms andlight weapons; corruption; porous borders; and the crime-terror nexus.

• Better intelligence is needed on the links between terrorist groups and criminal and illicit networks, including with drug cartels in Central and South America and the Caribbean, as well as better data collection, mapping and analysis of trafficking flows and collaboration between Latin American Cartels, Eurasian-based syndicates, and West African criminal gangs.

• Recent large seizures of cocaine indicate that West Africa may be experiencing a revival of the cocaine trade following a two year decline, driving growth in demand for illicit drugs in the region, which has experienced an increase in drug abuse over the past few years.

5. The proceedings of the Symposium highlighted the importance of translating political will and common resolve into concrete results. Participants identified a number of promising areas where increased operational co-operation could lead to practical outcomes:

• Launching an informal trans-Atlantic Network: which would promote and support the establishment of networks and platforms of law enforcement and judicial practitioners at the regional/sub-regional level. Such platforms could subsequently be inter-connected. This initiative would facilitate the exchange of information/ intelligence and facilitate legal assistance. It could also promote best practices (such as joint investigation teams) within and between regions.

• Combating high-level corruption and denying safe haven, including visas, to criminals, and other illicit or corrupt actors.

• Promoting effective law enforcement practices and tools, such as mutual legal assistance, in connection with criminal investigations or proceedings aimed at combating transnational corruption, organized crime, and illicit networks.

• Strengthening collective capacities to counter trans-regional threats, including seeking greater coordination and synergies between multilateral and regional efforts as well as operational and information centers.

• Improving the understanding of emerging threats, including identifying gaps and needs.

• Looking for opportunities to co-ordinate US, EU, and other law enforcement assistance and training on trans-Atlantic threats in West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

• Seeking opportunities to co-ordinate with key Latin American states to help build capacity in West Africa.

• Examining ways in which international scientific collaboration could promote research, data collection and analysis of the scale and scope of transnational organized crime and the evaluation of law enforcement practices to ensure their effectiveness.

6. Participants also pointed to a number of factors which they saw as important to take into account in future efforts to enhance communication and coordination between national and international agencies, notably:

• Developing a clearer picture of transnational crime trends across the Atlantic, including the presence and activities of illicit networks and their illicit financial flows, so that government agencies can develop more effective strategies to address transnational threats and deploy the most effective investigative techniques to disrupt them.

• Exploring the establishment of a contact group modeled after existing coordination mechanisms (e.g. piracy) to monitor and ensure progress and enhance the coherence of cooperation between stakeholders.

• Enhancing intelligence and information-sharing arrangements, including common arrangements for analyzing intelligence, and supporting evidence-sharing to assist in carrying out investigations and prosecutions.

• Examining the establishment of sound mechanisms to trace the flow of criminally derived funds and to prevent illicit networks benefitting from the proceeds of crime.

• Promoting the implementation and best use of the available international instruments, including the United Nations conventions regarding the control of drugs, corruption (UNCAC), and Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), as well as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) principles on combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

• Promoting public awareness of the real costs to governments and their citizens of the insecurity, the loss of revenue, trade and investment, and the risks to health and safety caused by the activities of illicit networks.

7. Many participants emphasized that fighting transnational crime and dismantling illicit networks is not something that any one government can do alone, and that working together closely at the bilateral, sub-regional, regional and global level is essential. In this regard, the May 2011 G8 Political Declaration of the Ministers responsible for the fight against illicit drug trafficking was pointed to as setting out important commitments with regard to curbing the transatlantic trafficking of cocaine, as part of the world drug problem.

8. The co-chairs underlined that the aim of organizing the Trans-Atlantic Symposium was to bring together an informal trans-Atlantic “network of networks”, and invited participants to make this network a reality by taking advantage of the contacts they had made during the Symposium in their daily efforts to combat transnational criminal threats. They also invited the participants to incorporate the best practices highlighted at the Symposium in their future work; and to look for further opportunities to bring the trans-Atlantic network together to follow-up on the outcomes of the Symposium and combat transnational illicit networks.


1. Synchronize National Security Strategies and Capabilities to Dismantle Transnational Illicit Networks: A United Front

As articulated in his message to TAS delegates, and as reflected in the recently released Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime and Addressing Converging Threats to National Security (, President Barack Obama and the United States are committed to strengthen partnerships with the EU, and other partners, to combat transnational crime and converging threats. As further recognized in Lisbon, many criminal and illicit networks are increasingly becoming more sophisticated, move easily between the licit and illicit worlds, and employ sophisticated technology and financial savvy.

Criminal networks are expanding and diversifying their activities, smuggling billions of dollars of illegal goods into our jurisdictions, trafficking in drugs, arms, and human beings, smuggling counterfeit products, as well as embezzling public funds and bulk cash derived from criminal enterprises. These activities cost our economies jobs and tax revenue and endanger the safety and welfare of our people. These criminal networks bribe government officials and take advantage of weak border security and ill-equipped law enforcement to facilitate their operations. Along emerging trafficking routes, such as the route from Latin America through West Africa to Europe, criminal networks are spreading corruption and undermining fledgling democratic institutions. Due to the enormous profits associated with drug trafficking, it is also a way to finance for a vast array of other illicit actors to manipulate deviant industries and illicit market conditions to leverage opportunity to sustain a crime-terror continuum.

ACTION: The United States unveiled its National Strategy to Combat Transnational Crime and Converging Threats in July 2011, which included making the trans-Atlantic network on dismantling transnational illicit networks a principal pillar of inter-regional cooperation, as well as its annual National Drug Control Strategy. The European Council issued the European Pact to Combat International Drug Trafficking in June 2010, the EU Anti-Drug Strategy in 2005, and the EU Action Plan for 2009-2012 The European Police Chief’s Convention (June 2011) identified a number of converging and evolving transnational organized crime threats and vulnerabilities. To diminish these threats, the EU and the U.S are committed on coordinating a robust response at the trans-regional level to contain, disrupt and dismantle illicit networks effectively, and especially the drug flows between Latin America, West Africa, and Europe. By building cooperative platforms and networks across the Atlantic, the EU and the US will mobilize greater collective action, joint cases, and common strategic approaches with our international partners to combat transnational criminal threats and dismantle their illicit networks including along the crime-terror continuum.

 2. Coordinate Training and Capacity-Building Efforts in West Africa

West Africa is facing a significant threat from transnational organized crime, as seen most prominently by the dramatic increase in drug trafficking through the region. It is the focal point and keystone of illicit trans-Atlantic trafficking routes. Transnational crime is a threat to stability and good governance in West Africa and poses a direct threat to the security of citizens across the Atlantic. Recent large seizures of cocaine indicate that West Africa may be experiencing a revival of the cocaine trade following a two year decline, driving growth in demand for illicit drugs in the region, which has experienced an increase in drug abuse over the past few years. At the same time, West African states that are plagued by corruption, weak institutions, and large ungoverned areas lack the capacity to defeat organized crime threats.

The EU and the US acknowledge the importance of promoting legislative reforms and effective law enforcement practices and tools, such as mutual legal assistance, in connection with criminal investigations or proceedings aimed at combating transnational corruption, organized crime, and illicit networks in West Africa. In Lisbon, the EU and the US agreed to strengthen collective capacities to counter trans-regional threats, including seeking greater coordination and synergies to help committed West African partners to develop criminal justice systems and rule of law institutions to combat corruption, money laundering, and organizing crime. Based on shared interests by Ghana and Senegal, and others, it was agreed to coordinate law enforcement training workshops and related capacity-building projects to strengthen their national efforts to combat transnational criminal threats. It was agreed that it was important to foster inter-regional exchanges and best practices among jurisdictions including engaging with key Latin American countries to partner more strategically with West African governments. The EU and the US also agreed that ECOWAS must play a critical role and provide leadership to effectively combat transnational crime in West Africa.

ACTION: The United States has embarked on a West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative (WACSI). WACSI is the first ever USG-wide agreed upon set of priorities for combating transnational organized crime in West Africa. WACSI builds on a holistic understanding of security and has five strategic pillars to guide USG efforts: 1) building accountable institutions; 2) establishing legal and policy frameworks; 3) strengthening security operations; 4) reinforcing justice operations; and 5) mitigating the negative impacts on local communities. The USG seeks to coordinate with the EU and other international partners to support WACSI efforts.

The EU and ECOWAS are currently working towards a very significant regional anti-drugs project financed by the 10th EDF, which will focus on reinforcing advocacy, monitoring and coordination capacity of ECOWAS and in particular its drugs unit, as well as to improve its capacity to obtain valuable information and indicators on drugs trade, disseminate good practices and build national law enforcement and judicial capacities. This project is expected to include a strong focus on anti-money laundering, with substantial financing already foreseen, up to € 19.4 M. This project will be in support of ECOWAS own Drug and Crime Action Plan (EDCAP).

Both the EU and the US agreed to map and share their respective technical assistance and projects in West Africa to enhance future coordination and cooperation. Both also agreed to step-up coordination with the participants of the G8-Plus Ministerial on Transatlantic Cocaine Trafficking, as well as ECOWAS, UNOWA, UNODC, EUROPOL, and other partners and initiatives.

3. Coordinate Training and Capacity-Building Efforts in Central America

Central America faces significant security challenges and is another subregional area that is alarmingly threatened by transnational criminal groups which are subverting governments and destabilizing fragile political and judicial systems and communities alike. The EU and the US are committed to assist partners in the region to combat the brutal violence and criminal activity by enhancing cooperation on combating narcotics- and illicit-trafficking; safeguarding the safety of citizens and communities; rooting out corruption at all levels of government; and disrupting the movement of criminals, contraband and illicit funds.

Supporting the security objectives of governments participating in the Central America Integration System (SICA), the EU and the US will help SICA partners to strengthen the rule of law, attack criminal organizations head-on, rehabilitate those who do fall into criminality while preventing young people from doing that in the first place, root out corruption, and ensure accountable and effective institutions are supported and reinforced.

ACTION: The EU and United States attach great importance to promoting international collaboration with the governments and peoples of the Central American countries to:

• reduce the levels of violence in the region and to foster social and economic opportunity for the citizens of Central America;

• prevent the transit of criminals, contraband, and illicit funds to, through and within Central America to reduce the ability of organized crime to conduct illicit activities and perpetuate the cycle of violence in the region;

• reduce corruption and support our partners in their efforts to maintain properly trained and resourced law enforcement, rule of law institutions, and community action programs, creating a culture of lawfulness;

• build the capacity of Central American governments and societies to enhance social and economic opportunities by strengthening local governments and communities to integrate sustainable socio-economic development policies into citizen security efforts; and

• support the development of coordinated action plans with Central America, building on the efforts of SICA, to harness the critical training and assistance capabilities of others, including Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Spain, as well as international financial institutions, such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, and multilateral organizations, such as the OAS and the UN.

The United States will implement this commitment via its Central American Citizen Security Partnership including support to special vetted police units, and via its participation in initiatives like the SICA Regional Crime Observatory to bring technology, data, and intelligence together; support to train police, judges, prosecutors, and other actors; encourage fiscal reform and implementation of asset forfeiture regimes; and a new challenge grants program to bolster security and justice sector institutions.

4. Information- and Intelligence Sharing

Among the ways to fight networks with networks and getting ahead of today’s criminal adversaries is for committed jurisdictions to enhance intelligence and information-sharing arrangements, including common arrangements for analyzing intelligence, and supporting evidence-sharing to assist in carrying out investigations and prosecutions. The EU and the US are committed to develop innovative information-sharing platforms in partnership with Europol.

ACTION: The EU and the US will leverage all possible areas of cooperation, including new and existing communications networks, such as the EUROPOL network, or the INTERPOL OASIS network in order to promote trans-Atlantic law enforcement coordination and operational cooperation against transnational organized crime threats.

5. Leveraging International Cooperation 

The EU and the US recognize that fighting transnational crime and dismantling illicit networks is not something that any one government can do alone, and that working together closely at the bilateral, sub-regional, regional and global level is essential. In this regard, the EU and the US support the May 2011 G8-Plus Political Declaration and Action Plan of the Ministers responsible for the fight against illicit drug trafficking and agreed to coordinate with regard to curbing the transatlantic trafficking of cocaine, as part of the world drug problem. The EU and the US also agreed to launch an informal trans-Atlantic Network, which would promote and support the establishment of networks and platforms of law enforcement and judicial practitioners at the regional/sub-regional level. Such platforms could subsequently be inter-connected including among G8, ECOWAS, OAS, SICA, and other partners, and coordinated with efforts across the Pacific and other regions. Such efforts would facilitate the exchange of information/ intelligence and facilitate legal assistance. It would also promote best practices (such as joint investigation teams) within and between regions and coordinate greater training and technical capacities.

ACTION: The EU and the US will leverage all possible areas of cooperation, including legal instruments such as the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the Palermo Convention), the UN Convention against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, and the protocols to which the United States is a party, to obtain the assistance of international partners and to raise international criminal justice, border security, and law enforcement standards and norms. The EU and the US will strengthen its engagement with the United Nations in this regard and leverage the growing role of regional and other multilateral institutions that have risen in significance and influence over the past decade. Additionally, the United States will continue to pursue cooperation with other countries and with partners such as the G8, the G20, ECOWAS, OAS, EUROPOL, INTERPOL, MAOC-N, and new inter-regional platforms across the Atlantic in developing leading-edge training initiatives and capacities to disrupt and dismantle transnational illicit networks.


European Union
U.S. Department of State
United States of America

 October 2011
Washington, DC and Brussels