On 27 February 2023, CRIMJUST held an official ceremony to inaugurate the experimental laboratory of the National Training Centre for Police (Escuela Nacional de Entrenamiento Policial – CENOP), in Tolima, Colombia. This ceremony concludes the remodelling of experimental coca cultivation and experimental laboratory facilities of the Training Centre, involving construction, renovation, and maintenance works. This assistance has been provided as part of the CRIMJUST Programme, funded by the European Union Global Illicit Flows Programme, in an effort to develop and disseminate technical knowledge around coca cultivation, chemical precursors and drug production at both regional and inter-regional levels.
The ceremony was followed by a 3-day training, which took place from 28 February to 3 March 2023, at the Training Centre, and was on the “Effective Responses to Cocaine Processing and involved Chemical Substances.” It was attended by 32 investigators and prosecutors (including 5 women and 27 men) from Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Uruguay, Benin, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire. Organized in partnership with the Integrated Illicit Crop Monitoring System (SIMCI), this training was delivered on the back of an increase in seizures of coca leaf and coca base outside producing countries. It sought to outline technical and chemical processes involved in cocaine production as well as to promote best investigative practices to identify coca crops and dismantle clandestine cocaine laboratories.
This inter-regional training aimed to not only strengthen practitioners technical and institutional capacity to develop targeting and disruption strategies to cocaine trafficking across supply chains, but further provided an opportunity for South-South Cooperation, facilitating new ties between law enforcement and criminal justice agencies based in Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa.