The main objective of this Group, which comprises customs and law enforcement officers from 36 countries,
is to develop and harmonise tools and systems to improve drug detection in European airports.
Meeting once a year, the group primarily acts as a forum for the exchange of practical
information on problems and operational practice. It has also increasingly developed specific
projects thereby deepening the level of co-operation among drug control services.
• Annual reviews of the development of drug seizures at airports|
• Setting up of rapid alert systems on drug detection
• Regular updates of information on the Passenger Control Handbook
• Regular updates of the Handbook on carrying out checks on general aviation
• Collection and analysis of airport crime figures
• Development of an Airport Crime Risk Register
• Exploration of measures against drug exports
• Comparison of new technologies in drug detection
• Examination of appropriate passenger data collection systems
• Analysis of the potential for criminal activities generated by general aviation
• Regular update of the Directory of Drug Control officials at European airports (“Airports brochure”)
• Regular updates of the Directory of National Contact officers in General Aviation (“General aviation brochure”)
An annual drug seizure review
Annually the Group reviews drug seizures at European Airports, with special focus on aspects
concerning general aviation, controlled deliveries, West African links and low cost carriers.
This analysis is carried out by the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office of the World Customs
Organization. It is established on the basis of available information on drug seizures reported
by customs services (and in certain cases police services).
Lately, it decided to look more closely into the drug trafficking situation in the new member
States or observer countries. At the annual meeting the countries concerned explain in detail
the modalities of their risk analysis and their recent seizures.
Furthermore, it also examines cash-flows originating in drug-trafficking seized at airports
and the concealment methods used.
Joint operational activities
The Airports Group promotes the undertaking of multilateral drug seizure operational
activities among its member States. The results of some of these operations are presented
in the plenary and discussed among practitioners.
The Group examines their profile on the basis of a study undertaken in Portugal during the
years 1999 to 2006. This study was triggered by the fact that the numbers of foreign prisoners
were increasing and that over 50% of them were arrested for drug trafficking. It showed that
current drug couriers have a different profile from drug couriers in the 90’s: social status,
motives, crime history, personal risk factors are very different from one to the other. It proved
impossible to define common denominators - underlining the added value of this criminological
research on drug smugglers, in particular with regard to successful profiling.
Traffic and profiling
The Airports Group members share information on the trafficking danger represented by West African
countries and its influence on the European crime scene as well as about increasing land seizures
in West Africa and container seizures in Europe and the secondary distribution routes in Europe
via Spain and Portugal.
It also deals with chemical profiling and the methodology of backtracking investigations with
a view to prepare criminal charges in cases of drug-trafficking. In the area of precursor
trafficking, it examined the results of seizures made on transports from Europe to countries
of South America and Africa
The Group considers that they constitute a very effective tool in the fight against smugglers networks.
Problems may arise, where independent magistrates have to grant prior authorisation.
Therefore representatives of the judiciary involved in the decision-making process on controlled
deliveries in the member States will be invited to take part in the debate with the aim to
identify common solutions for existing obstacles in the smooth setting-up of a controlled delivery.
Access to Personal data
Initiatives have been taken at European level to give to law enforcement agencies access to
personal data in the passenger name record drawn up by airlines. The platform transmitted
its concerns to the European Council.
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