style[amp-boilerplate] INTERPOL seizes 55 tonnes of drugs across West Africa and Latin America, 357 suspects arrested

INTERPOL seizes 55 tonnes of drugs across West Africa and Latin America, 357 suspects arrested

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An international operation across Latin

America and West Africa by Interpol between

6 and 15 March,2017, has netted 55 tonnes of

drugs, a seizure which underlines the 'massive

scale' of activities of transnational organized

crime groups, INTERPOL Secretary General

Jürgen Stock said.

Operation Lionfish III involved 5,000 law

enforcement officials in 13 countries, with 357

arrests and the bulk of seizures resulting from

intelligence-led operations by police in

participating countries.

"This operation highlights the massive

scale of activities of organized crime

groups in Latin America and West Africa

channeling drugs into Europe," said

Secretary General Stock.

"As law enforcement faces increasing

demands on its resources, it is a

significant reminder of the wide range

of threats facing communities

worldwide, not only from terrorism, but

also by transnational organized crime


"The commitment of participating

countries to working in a coordinated

fashion via INTERPOL's global network to

disrupt drug trafficking routes and

crime groups underpinned the success

of this operation," added Mr Stock.

Seizures in the operation included 52

tonnes of cocaine, cannabis and heroin,

with the cocaine haul of 25 tonnes alone

estimated to be worth approximately

USD 950 million.

The operation further highlighted how

precursor chemicals are being diverted from

legitimate to illicit purposes, with 20

clandestine laboratories dismantled and three

tonnes of precursor chemicals seized.

"The Brazilian Federal Police was pleased to

play a key role in Operation Lionfish by

hosting its operational coordination unit.

INTERPOL's policing capabilities and global

network helped enhance the capacity of

participating countries to cooperate and seize

large quantities of drugs as well as arrest high

level targets," said Rogerio Galloro, Executive

Director of the Brazilian Federal Police.

The operation was co-organized by INTERPOL's

General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, with

support from the INTERPOL Regional Bureaus

in Buenos Aires and Abidjan. INTERPOL's

Criminal Networks unit facilitated information

exchange and cross-checking against

INTERPOL's global databases in real time.

"Operation Lionfish III shows the intrinsic role

of INTERPOL Regional Bureaus in supporting

member countries combat organized crime

and drug trafficking affecting entire regions,"

said Kedji Abbe, Head of the INTERPOL

Regional Bureau in Abidjan.

The operation was held under the framework

of INTERPOL's CRIMJUST project, managed

jointly with the UNODC and Transparency

International and funded by the European


It aims to strengthen criminal investigations

and cooperation along cocaine routes in Latin

America, the Caribbean and West Africa by

fostering interregional law enforcement

coordination and information sharing.

Drawing on the resources of INTERPOL's

Project Fortaleza which supports Latin

American countries fight organized crime

syndicates, the operation involved Argentina,

Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia,

Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Guinea

Bissau, Nigeria, Panama and Peru.

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