European Anti-Fraud Office

OLAF secures safe exchange of information during joint customs operation in the Mediterranean

OLAF secures safe exchange of information during joint customs operation in the Mediterranean

01/12/2017

The Regional Directorate of Customs Coast Guard of Marseille and the Spanish Customs Surveillance Directorate, in collaboration with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), seized a total of 2.3 tons of cannabis and six people were arrested during Joint Customs Operation "Pascal 2017" in July.  Maritime and air assets were used to set up a large-scale operation in the Mediterranean Sea to track down and halt drug traffickers that smuggle cannabis resin from North Africa to the European Union (EU) via the Strait of Gibraltar .This is the second operation of this type between French and Spanish customs, in a joint effort to improve efficiency in the area of maritime surveillance by combining operational assets.

All information was processed in real time within the joint operational centre in Madrid, Spain. OLAF provided the Virtual Operations Coordination Unit (VOCU), an application of the Anti-Fraud Information System (AFIS) managed by OLAF, for the secure exchange of information during the operation.

The customs authorities used air and sea units equipped with maritime surveillance to carry out the operation. French aircrafts were deployed from Spanish bases. In order to allow effective coordination and exchanges of experience between both Customs units, French officers joined the operational centre in Madrid, whilst Spanish officers worked with the French authorities in Marseille.