Interpol targets traffickers in Eastern and Southern Africa

Interpol announced on Thursday a successful operation across Eastern and Southern Africa that targeted human, drugs, and arms traffickers.

The operation targeted a wide variety of cross-border crimes and resulted in the rescue of human trafficking victims, the seizure of drugs, guns and stolen vehicles and the recovery of smuggled goods like ivory and diamonds. The operation, codenamed Usalama, was led by the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization and the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation. Interpol supported the efforts.

"My experience as a police chief is that ultimately every crime is transnational and cross-border in nature," General Kale Kayihura, the inspector general of police and Chairperson of EAPCCO, said. "This calls for the need to work together more than ever to solve national and transnational crimes. The success of operation Usalama shows that we can and must work together, not only at EAPCCO/SARPCCO regional level, but also at pan-African level if we are to succeed."

In Ethiopia, the operation resulted in the rescue of more than 300 human trafficking victims, along with 38 suspects arrested. In Uganda, 28 human trafficking victims were rescued and 15 suspects were arrested. Items recovered in the operation included AK-47s, stolen vehicles, 12 elephant tusks, six kg. of heroin and the demolition of 100 acres of marijuana.

"Operation Usalama was a strong, coordinated response from law enforcement to tackle the serious challenges posed by transnational crimes in Eastern and Southern Africa," Francis Rwego, the head of Interpol's Regional Bureau in Nairobi, said. "Hundreds of human trafficking victims have been saved, drugs and guns taken off the streets and serious criminals arrested through this operation, made possible through the leadership of EAPCCO and SARPCCO."