Greetings from the RTC! We’ve been in full swing despite it being the rainy season here in Accra. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) sponsored two courses on Advanced Narcotics Investigation and Equipment Training while the Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (DoS/INL) sponsored a course on Fisheries Enforcement and Prosecution.
The Advanced Narcotics Investigations was a week-long course facilitated by instructors from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with participants from a wide variety of law enforcement and narcotics control agencies throughout Africa, each with differing strengths, authorities and resource challenges. The course highlighted techniques used to investigate and dismantle complex narcotics trafficking conspiracies and distribution networks. The course provided participants with background knowledge and instruction in conducting bilateral investigations with foreign law enforcement counterparts. Specifically, DEA agents shared experiences dismantling and prosecuting criminal alliances in the U.S. as a result of interagency collaboration between multiple U.S. law enforcement agencies.
The course covered recruitment aspects, interviewing, and managing confidential sources, including informants and defendants who are seeking to cooperate with law enforcement officials in exchange for judicial leniency. To emphasize these points, attendees were tasked with analyzing information from a variety of sources including informants, cooperating defendants, open source material, and law enforcement counterparts. The ultimate objective of the course was to develop foundational knowledge for participants to prepare investigative and enforcement plans taking into account officer and public safety, collection and preservation of evidence, adherence to rules of law, and respect for human rights.
The three-week course on Equipment Training emphasized the importance or creating and deploying various operational plans in drug investigations. Law enforcement officers from Ghana, Benin and Togo had the opportunity to learn about and develop various tactics for deploying narcotics investigations including “buy-bust”, “flash roll”, and “buy-walk” operations. In a flash roll operation, undercover agents let suspects know they are “good for the money” in a drug transaction when a fellow agent briefly enters the scene to “flash the money” before driving off. In contrast, a buy-walk operation has a long term goal in mind and involves an undercover agent making multiple purchases from a suspect over a period of time in order to help build an ongoing case.
Lastly, the third course for July focused on Fisheries Enforcement and Prosecution and was delivered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The event brought together delegates from six West African countries to discuss issues impacting fisheries and how to improve enforcement practices. The participants came from a variety of different backgrounds and agencies, including law enforcement officers, investigators, judges, and naval leaders. NOAA instructors highlighted their experiences in the fishing industry, including enforcement and prosecuting fisheries cases while representatives of the West Africa Task Force discussed their experiences in the fight against illegal fishing. The course presented best practices in fisheries law enforcement and worked with the country delegations to identify solutions appropriate for their regions. The participants discussed methods illegal fisherman use to deceive law enforcement in the region including certain navigation patterns, disguising vessels, and avoiding detection. Instructors demonstrated effective practices for gathering and transporting evidence to support enforcement cases. This included simple steps to photograph and preserve fish as well as complex analysis into log books and vessel structure. For members of the judiciary, the course was an opportunity to understand these cases on a technical level rather than depending on prosecutors to learn how the industry operates. Furthermore, the course offered a forum for countries to discuss their national fisheries laws and develop their ability to coordinate with foreign agencies in this arena.
The upcoming months are jam-packed with activities almost every week so be on the lookout for new updates. We look forward to sharing a snapshot of the value that the West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative (WASCI) is bringing to the African continent.