Nearly 40 people either being smuggled or trafficked for illicit labor were identified and rescued during an INTERPOL-coordinated operation to strengthen border controls in West Africa.
Many of those rescued were unidentified minors who were being taken to work in illegal gold mines in Guinea. Others were individuals who had paid smugglers to get them to Europe via Libya.
The eight-day (5 – 12 October) Operation Adwenpa III involved more than 100 officers at 23 sites across key land border and airports in eight countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
More than 300 kg of counterfeit pharmaceutical products were discovered at Abidjan airport which leads to the discovery of a house being used as a warehouse and packaging site for other fake medicines, and the arrest of six people.
Officers at the Noe land border between Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana also seized 1,624 kg of counterfeit medicines.
In addition to the identification of five vehicles recorded in INTERPOL’s Stolen Motor Vehicles database, officers also recovered a wide range of counterfeit passports and other identity documents.
“The operation shows the range of activities in which organized crime is involved. In addition to helping protect communities, these interventions are part of a longer-term solution where information sharing and cross-border cooperation between various law enforcement agencies is essential,” said Harold O’Connell, Director of INTERPOL’s Capacity Building and Training unit.
Funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, Adwenpa III builds on the success of the previous two operations as part of a multi-year Capacity Building Programme to Strengthen Border Management in West Africa.
Under the program, representatives from various law enforcement agencies including customs, gendarmerie, border police and AIRCOP’s Joint airport interdiction task forces took part in a training session earlier in the year to provide them with the skills and expertise to conduct the practical operation.