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Regional law enforcement officers boost their capacity to counter drug trafficking |12 September 2023

Regional law enforcement officers boost their capacity to counter drug trafficking

Guests and delegates in a souvenir photograph

Law enforcement officers from Seychelles, the Comoros, Madagascar and Mauritius working in the fight against illicit trafficking and other organised crimes, are since yesterday participating in an advanced counter narcotics training course conducted by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The five-day session is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

The undercover and surveillance techniques capacity building training is being held at the Eden Bleu Hotel, Eden Island.

The goal of the training is to address issues such as criminal activities and corruption, by enhancing law enforcement capacity to investigate narcotics trafficking across the region given new development in the way of trafficking and creating new drugs, especially synthetic drugs.

The participants are expected to gain knowledge and skills necessary to confront, undermine and ultimately dismantle the complex drug networks that facilitate the illicit trade locally and in the region.      

The training was opened by the Minister for Internal Affairs, Errol Fonseka, in the presence of Seychelles’ Commissioner of Police, Ted Barbe; the Chief of Defence Forces, Brigadier Michael Rosette; and Attorney General, Frank Ally.

Also in attendance were the acting special agent in charge for DEA Africa Division, Patrick MacDarby; US chargé d’affaires ad interim, James Donegan; the deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, Tobin Bradley; the dean and members of the diplomatic corps and other invited guests.

Opening the workshop, Minister Fonseka said the forum was good for Seychelles given its vast maritime space and positions of the islands, which are beneficial to criminal organisations given the country’s limited resources for adequate surveillance.

“This forum is great for us. We want to work with our regional partners, we do not have much time. 10 percent of our youths are being involved and in fact we are trailing a little bit behind in dealing with this issue and with this sort of background, I can only thank you all for being here and networking and building up this capacity among yourselves,” Minister Fonseka said.

For his part, Commissioner Barbe said the training marks yet another important day in the great partnership and reciprocal commitment that exist between Seychelles and the United States in striving together to provide support towards resolving the scourge of drugs.

He noted that while the country had recently started to see among its drugs seizure on the streets small quantity of methamphetamine better known as crystal meth, the largest seizures still remain the 0.6 tonnes of heroin and 0.3 tonnes of crystal meth seized onboard an Iranian dhow in April, thus cutting them short from reaching our streets.

“For too long now, too many of our brothers and sisters have seen their lives shattered and their families broken because of the monstrous atrocity caused by illegal drug activities. Well targeted capacity building exercises like this training workshop, increasing physical and human resources are among the key components in the noble duty that we have in fighting drug activities,” Commissioner Barbe said.

He added that training will not only strengthen the capacity of local law enforcement officers but also that of regional officers, which will further boost the collaborative effort in fighting illicit drug trafficking and other crimes in the region.

He thanked the US government for having given Seychelles the privilege to host such an important training workshop.

In his remarks, Mr MacDarby said the course involving law enforcement officers in the Western Indian Ocean region is a testament to the global collaboration required to make headway in this critical endeavour.

He added that the challenge of countering illicit narcotics is not only a local issue but a global crisis that transacts national borders. 

He noted that given that narcotics undermines the health, safety and prosperity of communities, as such the response must be comprehensive and far reaching.

“Remember, the power of collective effort lies not only in the knowledge we gain but also in the relationship we build. Law enforcement cooperation and information sharing are the most important weapon in this battle,” Mr MacDarby said.

For his part, Mr Bradley said given the rise in the production and use of synthetic drugs across the world, the US in July this year, launched a global coalition to combat all types of synthetic drugs.

He noted that while the Western Indian Ocean hosts vast maritime trade network which transnational criminal organisations are exploiting for their own profit, there is the need to work together to close off those criminal organisations and to build maritime security through regional cooperation.

“We have invited a coalition of any country who wants to work on this with us to protect our communities,” said Mr Bradley who thanked the law enforcements officers for the sacrifices made to fight against illicit narcotics and other crimes.


Text & photos by Patrick Joubert

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