The World Customs Organization (WCO) and the European Union (EU) have joined forces in the “COLIBRI Monitoring and Controlling General Aviation” Project, an initiative under the Global Illicit Flows Programme funded by the EU. The Project aims to tackle the challenges posed by Transnational Organized Crime (TOC) and illicit trafficking in the General Aviation (GA) sector and is being implemented in Latin America and the Caribbean, and West and Central Africa since 2019.
General Aviation concerns all civil aviation operations for purposes other than commercial transport. GA represents an attractive means for traffickers due to its reduced security measures and inspection mechanisms, its capacity to be rapidly operated in and from isolated areas, as well as its speed, agility and ability to cover vast distances.
The COLIBRI project aims to improve security in this vulnerable sector by enhancing cross-border law enforcement cooperation. It notably:
- Supports an increased awareness about the GA threat,
- Fosters the strengthening of Interagency and International Cooperation,
- Favours regular and more effective Controls,
- Facilitates exchange and sharing of information and
- Provides support to Analysis of Trends, Routes, Modi Operandi.
This is achieved through the implementation of a complete capacity building programme, the access and usage of advanced IT tools (Geoportal and CENcomm) for more efficient control operations and monitoring and the planning and execution of joint international operations such as Operation Rutilant that was implemented in January 2023.
Operation Rutilant, the first internationally coordinated effort on General Aviation led by the COLIBRI project, involved 60+ administrations from 15 countries over 9 days, resulting in 1,435 events recorded in the Geoportal, and the significant seizure of 948 kg of cocaine, clandestine runaways discovered, and aircraft immobilized.
Implemented by the World Customs Organization, the COLIBRI project’s expanded scope and intensified focus on General Aviation demonstrate a strategic and collaborative approach to mitigating the risks associated with TOC in these critical areas.
The Geoportal is an innovative mapping and geolocation IT tool, developed within the framework of the COLIBRI Project, it supports participating Law Enforcement Administrations (LEAs) and competent authorities in controlling and monitoring GA activities. The Geoportal provides officers with the capacity to collect data, analyse information from different sources, and obtain intelligence to improve risk analysis and have more efficient controls on GA aircraft.
The Geoportal plays an instrumental role in information sharing and exchange, on both national and international fronts. The objective is to provide a means to track the history of controls on an aircraft and geolocate them. The Geoportal and its features are accessible to all partner countries.