Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre
The Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (MAOC) (or Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre - Narcotics), based in Lisbon, is an international agency set up to coordinate anti-drug trafficking action by several European Union states with financial support from the Prevention against Crime Programme of the European Union, European Commission – Directorate -General Home Affairs. The participating states are Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Italy. The centre has been active since 1 April 2006. The Agreement that established MAOC (N) states that the Centre is to provide a forum for multi-lateral cooperation to suppress illicit drug trafficking by sea and air. The Centre aims to use intelligence on drug smuggling operations, by air or sea, to apply the most suitable military and/or law enforcement teams to respond to situations that arise. Its area of operations is the eastern Atlantic, from the Cape of Good Hope in Southern Africa to the Norwegian Sea.The Lisbon headquarters is staffed by Country Liaison Officers (CLOs) representing the police, customs, military and maritime authorities of the participating European nations, as well as by permanent observer from the United States through the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATFS). The European Commission, Europol, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) are observers of the MAOC (N), as well as Canada, Cape Verde, Germany, Greece, and Morocco. MAOC (N) is headed by an Executive Director and guided by an Executive Board.
The United Kingdom has allocated a team of three from its Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA); a SOCA officer serves as the Centre's first Director until October 2009. For the British, this was expected to build on the existing strong relationship between SOCA and the Royal Navy. Ireland's representation is a combined one from the Irish Drugs Joint Task Force of the Garda Síochána (Irish police), the Irish Customs Service and the Irish Naval Service. Personnel from Europol (on behalf of the European Union) and the US Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) are also present at the Centre to offer liaison and technical expertise.
The costs of the MAOC are shared between the participating states (aggregate 30% of total) and an EC Action Grant which covers the remaining 70% (€661,000). In 2007-8, each state contributed an initial €35,000 followed a year later by a further €5,800 (approx) to cover a shortfall.
About twenty operations were executed in MAOC's first six months, resulting in 10 seizures totalling more than 10 tonnes of cocaine.
In an operation in June, 2007, 840 kilograms of cocaine were seized aboard a Brazilian flagged vessel which was intercepted by the French Navy, acting on UK intelligence. The vessel, drugs and prisoners were returned to Brazil for prosecution.
On 3 September 2010 British police acting on intelligence from the French Central Office against Illegal Narcotics Trafficking (OCRTIS) and supported by the Royal Navy’s HMS Gloucester recovered around 30 kilos of cocaine which had been concealed inside the rudder of the yacht ‘Tortuga’.
The Irish Joint Task Force on Drug Interdiction co-operated with MAOC and SOCA in Operation Sea Bight which intercepted a large consignment of cocaine off the Irish coast. In its first 4 years of operations MAOC (N) supported the seizure of over 50 tonnes of cocaine and over 40 tonnes of cannabis.
- "Maritime centre launched to tackle drug shipments to Europe". Home Office. 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
- "Lenihan launches Ireland's participation in new European Centre to tackle cocaine shipments". Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
- "Question no 41 by Jim Higgins - Subject: MAOC-N". European Parliament. 15 January 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
- "Maritime Analysis Operations Centre - Narcotics". Hansard. 16 Dec 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
- "Joint Task Force on Drug Interdiction statement". Irish Defence Forces. 8 May 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009.