COLIBRI’s 4th expert coordination meeting was held in Brussels from October 25 to 29, 2021. The first in-person meeting after the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic brought together 25 experts from 3 continents. In the meeting, members from the French National Gendarmerie, as well as experts from the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre- Narcotics (MAOC-N), participated for the first time. Their participation and the potential for future contribution to the project are a key step for COLIBRI in its efforts to gather intelligence and enhance cooperation that will improve its operational phase over the course of 2022.
Between July 2020 and September 2021, the COLIBRI project (Monitoring and Controlling General Aviation along the Cocaine Route) delivered online training on general aviation monitoring and controlling in Latin America and the Caribbean (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, Dominican Republic), and in West Africa (Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal). 203 officials in Latin America and the Caribbean and 153 in West Africa participated in the training. Their instruction will continue with a practical in-person training until the end of the calendar year and will span over the course of 2022.
The expert coordination meeting allowed experts to discuss results, outcomes, best practices, and achievements of the training, as well as plan the next phase of the course, taking into account the participating countries’ needs.
The meeting outlined the security threat that general aviation can constitute with the experts presenting their contributions on pivotal topics that officials in the field deal with. Part of the meeting was dedicated to the use of the Geoportal and its functionalities. The Geoportal is a secure web portal, a document management system, and a mobile app for consulting information on the ground and adding information on seizures developed by COLIBRI. The key feature of the Geoportal is its database, which centralises all the information that can be consulted through a secure channel and can be easily accessed by law enforcement. The consolidation of the practical training programme and the transfer of know-how to the expert trainers were also addressed during the meeting.
COLIBRI is implemented by the World Customs Organisation which started in 2019, as part of the Global Illicit Flows Programme. It works on tackling the threat of organised crime in Latin America, the Caribbean, and West and Central Africa, with specific focus on general aviation (GA). COLIBRI aims at increasing capacities on intelligence, targeting and inspection techniques and improve operational coordination by bringing together law enforcement authorities to share information, intelligence, and best practices in the fight against illicit trafficking.