Operation COCAIR III was carried out by the European Union’s European Commission (EU), World Customs Organization (WCO), INTERPOL, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes. The European Union considers itself a “unique economic and political partnership” between more than 25 European countries, focusing on everything from economic cooperation to combating climate change and security policies. The European Commission is responsible for introducing legislation and executing decisions. The WCO is an intergovernmental organization based out of Brussels that focuses on global customs issues, particularly the “harmonization of Customs procedures” across countries involved in the WCO. INTERPOL is the largest international police organization in the world. It assists police cooperation across international borders and authorities who attempt to fight international crime. And finally, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime was established in 1997 as a branch of the UN dedicated to fighting the global drug trade and international crime in general.
Global drug trafficking, along with other international organized criminal activities, are estimated to generate $870 billion. So when it comes to drug trafficking across international borders, these international and supranational organizations have similar goals: curbing global drug use by limiting international drug trafficking. For example, the EU has been building its efforts against the drug trade since 1998. The EU drugs action plan (2009-12) aims to restrict drug use and drug-related crime by focusing on coordination of drug policies across the EU. INTERPOL has chosen to focus on international criminal drug operations and identifying new drug trafficking routes. INTERPOL connects national and international law enforcement organizations in order to keep the fight against international drug trafficking as cohesive as possible.
Experts from eighteen of the twenty countries involved with Operation COCAIR III attended a five-day training session co-hosted by INTERPOL and the WCO. With the help of all of the participating organizations and countries, the WCO set up an “Operational Coordination Unit” in Dakar, Senegal that was responsible for relaying information between the national police contact points about day-to-day developments during the operation. The cooperation between the international organizations involved in Operation COCAIR III was imperative to its success. With a hot-button issue such as drug trafficking, it is natural that these various international organizations are on the same page.