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Dr. Denis Alexeev, a member of the Saratov University Russia, talks about the growing market of synthetic drugs from Asia April 1 to 69 participants from 34 countries attending the first-ever Program on Countering Narcotics and Illicit Trafficking at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. (DOD Photo by Karlheinz Wedhorn/RELEASED)

By Christine June
GCMC Public Affairs

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (April 11, 2014) – Recognizing that criminals are organized and united, the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies developed a new resident program to show members of  “the good side”  how to collaborate against the growing threat of transnational organized crime throughout the world.

The Program on Countering Narcotics and Illicit Trafficking introduced a two-week resident program that focuses on 21st century national security threats as a result of criminal activities March 31. Graduation was April 11.

For the past two weeks, 69 government law enforcement and intelligence pros from 34 countries scrutinized the activities of drug cartels, terrorists and transnational criminal organizations, and the necessary strategic-level approaches to combating these threats.

“Our program design and approach here is to focus on whole-of-governments’ solutions,” said Professor Joseph Vann, the program’s co-director, who has 27 years of experience a special agent of the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service. “It’s a new approach to looking at how militaries and civil societies – whole of government – efforts and apparatuses can be brought together to meet this serious challenge in today’s world.”

Croatian police inspectors Oliver Grubesa and Goran Rebic, both from the Ministry of Interior’s Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime Department, said that in their country, law enforcement and military have worked together to combat drug trafficking in some aspects, especially guarding its seaports, but not to the extent of the U.S. and Europol models shown in class.

They said they will both add this new approach into the reports they have to send to their headquarters.

“This is a course designed to expose participants to best practices and new ideas that are being used in the field and having success in a strategic level,” said Professor Steven Monaco, who has 21 years of experience as a special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and regional law enforcement adviser for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. “Our emphasis has been on providing the participants with tools that they can take home and immediately put to use.”

Grubesa and Rebic said getting to know law enforcement and intelligence officers from many different countries will be extremely helpful to them in their jobs.

“It was a great opportunity to meet colleagues from West Africa,” said Rebic, who has 14 years of experience in law enforcement.”We have seaports, and we are a transit country for drugs – a heroin route – from West Africa. Now, I know some colleagues from West Africa and maybe, we can help each other.”

Besides Croatia, the graduates hailed from Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Tanzania, Turkey, the United States and Uzbekistan.