Associate countries in the AIRCOP network
Countries part of the AIRCOP network with the support of other international partners
Organised crime groups have long focused on streamlining the transportation of drugs and other illicit goods via ships, containers, aircraft and even by manufacturing their own semi-submersible vessels. As a result, they have been able to transport ever larger amounts of drugs and illicit goods across the globe. With the global number of air passengers expected to double in the coming 20 years, the increasing flow of air passengers and the growing international connectivity offered (globalisation), airlines will become more susceptible to exploitation by high-risk and suspicious passengers, such as illicit traffickers and those with less obvious intentions such as terrorists and returning foreign fighters. All types of drugs and illicit goods are being trafficked by air, as evidenced by seizures all over the globe. These include cocaine manufactured in Latin America, heroin coming from Asia and new psychoactive substances (locally produced and exported in/from many parts of the world), but also wildlife products, undeclared cash, fake travel documents or falsified medicine. Many airports however lack the technical and technological capabilities to undertake comprehensive and efficient profiling, inspections of shipments and luggage, or body checks without impacting the smooth operations of commercial airports.
The Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) was designed in 2010 to initially curb cocaine trafficking associated to passengers, cargo and mail, from source countries in Latin America via the Caribbean and Africa towards Europe.
The project aims at strengthening the capacities of international airports to detect and intercept high-risk passengers and illicit commodities in origin, transit and destination countries.
The enhanced capacity and increased knowledge of trained personnel has led to the expansion of the project scope and today, AIRCOP contributes to disrupting the flows of all illicit drugs and other illicit commodities, intercepting foreign terrorist fighters as well as detecting victims of trafficking in persons and smuggled migrants.
In addition, based on the fundamental idea of information sharing and trust building, adaptable to the evolution of trafficking routes and the emergence of newly trafficked commodities, AIRCOP is continuously expanding across the globe as a key element of border management and security. It currently includes airports in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East, with expansion planned in South-Eastern Europe and South-East Asia. Additional donors have also joined forces with the European Union to expand the project reach.
AIRCOP aims to build interdiction capacities at selected international airports across the globe by establishing Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs). The JAITFs are connected to international law enforcement databases and communication networks (INTERPOL’s I-24/7 and WCO’s CENcomm) to encourage real-time transmission of information aimed at intercepting illicit shipments. The project also seeks to promote intelligence and information sharing between services at national and international level, as well as promote an intelligence-led approach to countering drug trafficking.