Frontex leads international action against drug trafficking at 61 airports worldwide


Operational actions lead to 46 arrests and the seizure of 850 kg of drugs, mainly cannabis and cocaine.

Frontex and Spanish led an international action targeting drug trafficking via airports, which focused on checks of passenger and cargo traffic on both direct and connecting flights, mainly from the Americas. The action week, which took place at 61 airports between 11 and 18 December 2023, also involved Europol, INTERPOL and law enforcement authorities from 36 countries.  

During the action week, the involved authorities carried out checks on passengers and their luggage, as well as on parcels and cargo shipments, at 61 major airports. The checks aimed at detecting the possession or trafficking of drugs, especially cocaine, originating from Latin America. Another objective was to enhance the cooperation between police and customs authorities on both sides of the Atlantic. 

The operational phase, focusing on intensification of security at airports, was prepared during a preliminary intelligence phase. This led to an analysis of relevant information and the development of coordinated activities to be carried out during the action week.  

Arrests and seizures during the operation: 

  • 46 arrests 
  • 356 464 kg of cannabis  
  • 354 209 kg of cocaine  
  • 37 kg of synthetic drugs  
  • 101 559 kg other drugs 

Frontex drugs team contributed to the action week, supporting the operational planning and providing financial support during the implementation phase. The operational activities covered 29 European airports, as well as 32 airports in Africa and across the Americas.

Participating countries 

EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden.  

Non-EU countries: Argentina, Benin, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Gambia, Georgia, Guinea Bissau, Jamaica, North Macedonia, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Togo, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States 

Agencies: Europol, Frontex, INTERPOL  

Together against organised crime  

The operations toon place under the umbrella of EMPACT, the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats. It tackles the most important threats posed by organised and serious international crime affecting the EU. EMPACT strengthens intelligence, strategic and operational cooperation between national authorities, EU institutions and bodies, and international partners.