4th Exchange on drugs in Lisbon

From 18 to 22 February, the Euromed Police project and the Judicial Police of Portugal teamed up to implement the 4th Euromed Exchange on the fight against drug trafficking.

This activity gathered experts from eight South Partner Countries – Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Morocco, Israel and Jordan – and four Member States of the European Union – The Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and Portugal. Europol and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) also contributed to the work, while a visit of the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) was on the agenda. In addition, the CARIN, AMON and Asset Recovery Offices Networks were presented.

During five days, the practical challenges faced by law enforcement forces in their fight against drug trafficking have been examined in the view of improving their operational efficiency.

The methodology adopted by the joint organisation of Euromed Police and the Judicial Police of Portugal was to held thematic sessions on the basis of the different methods used by traffickers to transport drugs, and to combine presentations alternatively made by the Portuguese hosts, Euromed Partner Countries and other European experts.

To bring an operational perspective to this exchange, representatives from the countries’ drug units were invited to present the lessons learned from case studies. They explained the different steps of a real investigation that their unit conducted, highlighting the national expertise, the international component or the specific characteristics of the case. These practical examples covered all trafficking patterns: by air, by sea, by land and via the internet.

This approach falls in line with the main objectives of this type of exchange, namely to extract good practices from the experiences of different actors and identify potential topics for further capacity building action.

The sessions explored various investigation techniques such as: intelligence gathering, forensic methods, the tracing and identification of proceeds of crime, investigations of drugs trafficking based on money laundering and undercover investigation. Also, the sessions looked into challenging criminal phenomena such as the increased traffic of synthetic drugs, the detection of new psychoactive substances and the management of addictive behaviours.

All the delegations shared the assessment that the international dimension of drug trafficking and the international structure of criminal groups call for enhancing cross-border cooperation. In addition, evidence of an interconnection between the drug markets of the North and the South of the Mediterranean calls for increasing cooperation between South Partner Countries and European countries.

As a result of this exchange, the experts listed key challenging trends in relation to the modi operanda of drug traffickers. Also, the discussion resulted in a list of good practices and recommendations to face these challenges both at a strategic and at more operational level. Against this background, participation of the EMPACT Drug Network provided a perspective for translating this exchange into a more operational capacity building action addressing some of the key issues identified during the week.