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Federal Police and Customs authorities strengthen cooperation with Colombia and Brazil in the fight against drug trafficking

2019, June 18

Over the past twelve days, from the 2nd to the 13th of June, a joint delegation from the Federal Police and Customs authorities paid a working visit to Brazil and Colombia, the two main transit countries for cocaine trafficking through the port of Antwerp. This visit falls within the priorities of the Belgian Federal Police, which is competent and responsible for the international police cooperation of the Belgian police. During this mission, a number of new concrete initiatives were taken in the fight against drug trafficking.

Purpose of the mission

This joint mission, led by Commissioner General Marc De Mesmaeker and Administrator General Kristiaan Vanderwaeren, stresses the importance of a common approach in the fight against drug trafficking, following the example of the “Stream plan” in Antwerp, in which the same line of approach has been adopted, that is an intensive cooperation between all agencies involved.
“International police cooperation is one of my four priorities and I’m even more convinced of its importance after this visit. The specific geographical and economic circumstances in which the port of Antwerp operates, are of such nature that the fight against drug trafficking can only succeed if we invest in cooperation with the countries of origin and transit countries. We must therefore make every effort to achieve this”, said Marc De Mesmaeker.

This international police cooperation, for which the Federal Police is responsible, requires a uniform and coherent approach. That’s why the cooperation between the Belgian Federal Police and customs authorities and their counterparts in the countries concerned, has been further intensified in recent months.

Together with the Belgian customs authorities, the Federal Police wants to develop more possibilities to seize cocaine, that is on its way to Antwerp, in the countries themselves. The exchange of information and the cooperation with Brazil and Colombia in the investigations into the underlying criminal organizations, will also be optimized. In 2018, the South American police agencies seized over 50 tons of cocaine destined for Antwerp.

Belgium and Brazil call upon their respective police officers

In Brazil, the delegation met with the Brazilian Minister of Justice and Security and the Director of the Brazilian Federal Police. Both praised the excellent cooperation that currently exists with the Belgian Federal Police. In addition to previous agreements, both parties agreed to give even more concrete form to the cooperation.

An operation crime analyst from the Antwerp Federal Judicial Police will be at their disposal to cross-check and analyze the information in the common Belgian-Dutch-Brazilian files in light of possible further joint investigations. A member of the Anti-Narcotics brigade of the Brazilian police will also be at the Federal Police’s disposal for one month.


New agreements made

In Colombia, the Federal Police had a long meeting with the Director-General of the Colombian police and his Anti-Narcotics Director. A new Memorandum of Understanding will be negotiated with the Colombian police. The emphasis will also be on the exchange of good practices between Belgium and Colombia in the fight against cocaine trafficking.

The Belgian and Colombian customs administrations will also lay down their optimal cooperation in a Memorandum of Understanding. Both parties want to fully embrace technological innovation and the use of artificial intelligence in the control process that they will develop together.

A final agreement for more intensive cooperation was concluded between the Belgian customs authorities and the Brazilian Receita Federal.

Ports as a source of inspiration

The attention of the Belgian delegation was also drawn to the very far-reaching and successful public-private partnership in the Brazilian port of Santos, where 100% container scanning, risk analysis and other security measures form an integral part of the business model of the port terminals. The innovative tools for border management and border control at Sao Paulo airport, based on facial recognition and information sharing between police, customs and tax authorities, were impressive.

In addition, the ports of Cartagena and Santa Marta were visited to see how cocaine is smuggled and which forms of (public-private) cooperation need to be further developed. Administrator-General Kristiaan Vanderwaeren discussed with the Colombian customs administration the optimization of the cooperation, which is also included in a Memorandum of Understanding. After all, both administrations want to fully embrace technological innovation and the use of artificial intelligence in the control process that they will develop together.

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