TOPCOP prepares law enforcement for combatting drug trafficking

Drug trafficking is a very profitable business for criminals. According to Europol, it accounts for a fifth of all profits from organised crime. In order to keep the business running, organised crime groups are always on the move and constantly change modus operandi to avoid detection. To address this serious issue, the TOPCOP project provided a regional training for its law enforcement partners in the Eastern Partnership region. Participants were introduced to the best practices within the law enforcement community and learnt about the latest trends.

As one of the main routes for the entry of drugs into the EU is via its ports and harbours, the training looked at different angles to curb the illicit business in the shipping industry. The trainers from the police, prosecution and the private sector shared their expertise, and discussed the challenges of the port infrastructure with the participants. They also explained the use of different cooperation mechanisms through which law enforcement aims to stay ahead of criminals.

As crime groups are quick to exploit new technologies, the training also displayed how they can misuse encrypted communication channels. Europol plays an important role in curbing this trend, and their representative explained how they intercept these encrypted communications through “digital traps”, which has recently led to several global crackdowns of large-scale organised crime groups.

Furthermore, the activity tapped into the issue of synthetic drug production, as it poses serious challenges in the Eastern Partnership region. To be better prepared to deal with this type of crime, the practical training included the dismantling of illicit drug laboratories in a safe and secure environment. Participants simulated the raiding of such premises and securing the site without endangering their physical safety. They also had a chance to practice the handling of informants and managing the acquired information. The simulation exercise was carried out with the support of the Criminal Forensic Department of the Hungarian Police. As a next step, the project will develop a regional training curriculum ensuring the cascading of the knowledge on national level. 

The activity took place at the International Training Centre in Budapest between 27-31 March, bringing together law enforcement practitioners from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.