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Page last updated: September 22, 2022
UAE hosts the pre- operational meeting   INTERPOL illicit drugs operation results in record seizure worth over half a billion dollars
  • Thursday, September 22,2022

UAE hosts the pre- operational meeting INTERPOL illicit drugs operation results in record seizure worth over half a billion dollars

LYON, France – An international operation coordinated by INTERPOL has laid bare the vast scale of drug trafficking with the seizure of illicit narcotics and precursor chemicals worth a record USD 0.72 billion and the arrest of 1,333 suspects worldwide.

LYON, France – An international operation coordinated by INTERPOL has laid bare the vast scale of drug trafficking with the seizure of illicit narcotics and precursor chemicals worth a record USD 0.72 billion and the arrest of 1,333 suspects worldwide.
Operation Lionfish V (23 June to 31 July 2022) targeted the trafficking of illicit drugs along air, land and maritime routes in 22 countries worldwide through a coordinated cross-border approach, resulting in the seizure of more than 291 tons of precursor chemicals and 35.5 tons of narcotics seized.
While traditional drugs like cocaine and cannabis continue to represent a significant share of the illicit drugs market, the operation underscored the rise in the production and sale of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine, captagon and ketamine manufactured from precursor chemicals.
Once they obtain precursor chemicals, criminal organizations can produce an endless supply of synthetic drugs with a very high profit margin. The production of synthetic drugs does not rely on environmental or external factors like cocaine and heroin and can be manufactured in urban settings close to major transportation hubs.

Operational results
During the five-week operation authorities recovered 1.8 tons of ketamine, 683 kilograms of methamphetamine and 581 kilograms of captagon. Significant seizures also included:
* 20.2 tons of cocaine
* 11.7 tons of cannabis
* 158 kilograms of heroin
* 65,1000 tablets and 48 kilograms of tramadol
* 9,500,000 Pseudoephedrine tablets used to manufacture methamphetamine
* dozens of firearms, rockets and explosives

A clandestine super-lab capable of producing thousands of kilograms of ketamine was also dismantled in Cambodia where police arrested an individual wanted internationally on an INTERPOL Red Notice for alleged transnational drug smuggling offences.
During the operation, law enforcement arrested 1,333 people representing 25 different nationalities, further highlighting how drug trafficking is a global problem which requires a global response.

With India making the largest single seizure of heroin during the operation, with 75.3 kg of heroin seized in the Port of Mundra, [India quote:]
The operation showed that traffickers use various types of transport modes to smuggle their narcotics including containerized maritime cargo, air couriers, postal/express mail services, commercial vehicles, GOFAST vessels and small aircraft.

INTERPOL’s global network
During the operation, INTERPOL’s Criminal Networks and Drugs unit coordinated operational meetings on the exchange of information via INTERPOL’s I-24/7 secure global communications channel between participating countries.

INTERPOL successfully deployed its Relief database during the operation, a forensic capability which is capable of linking global drug seizures together. It resulted in the positive match of two prior drug seizures in Brazil and Germany.

[INTERPOL Secretary General said
The successful coordination at the heart of Operation Lionfish V was facilitated by pre-operational and capacity building meetings that took place in Abu Dhabi, UAE. During the meetings, international law enforcement officers shared real time intelligence leading to the disruption of global drug routes and those complex criminal organizations which control them.

The complex nature of today’s criminal organizations demands a sophisticated and coordinated response from law enforcement agencies. The United Arab Emirates was pleased to be able to leverage its strategic location at the crossroads between Europe, Asia and the Americas to bring together international drug law enforcement experts and disrupt criminal activities that know no borders. The success of Operation Lionfish V sends a clear message to international crime groups that successful collaboration among international law enforcement is possible. The UAE is committed to supporting its partners in INTERPOL to deepen this cooperation over the years to come.
Lionfish was carried out under the umbrella of Project AMEAP (Africa, Middle East, Asia Pacific), a multi-year project targeting drug trafficking and funded by the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World.



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