EOLIKA – the facts behind the bust

Border Security & Intelligence

What’s inside?

    On January 18th 2022, news hit of the Senegalese customs seizing three containers of ammunition aboard the Guyana-flagged cargo ship EOLIKA (IMO 8214968). Authorities estimated the value of the seized goods at $5.2 million for the three containers.

    While illicit trade of ammunition and small weapons is considered a small-in-size market and not the primary source of income for criminal organizations, its transactions worth is estimated at around $1 billion USD, per year

    With such unlimited financial resources, criminal organizations looking to smuggle weapons across borders can easily find ways to conceal their illicit activities without being noticed by authorities.

    Was this the only weapon smuggling event at the port of Dakar in the last years? Probably not. But authorities were lucky enough to catch this one on time due to some “inconsistent declaration” made by the crew. How can authorities be better prepared for the next attempt?

    Context is key

    The EOLIKA (previously known as the EURIKA) is a 39 years-old, 80-meter cargo ship, usually sailing under the flag of Panama, and operating mainly in Europe. In August 2021, a few months before setting sail on its first-ever voyage to West Africa, it changed identities – its name to EOLIKA, its flag to Guyana, and both its registered and beneficial owners. 

    Frame 4
    The historical path of the EOLIKA and its recent first visit to West Africa in bold

    A change of identity and ownership is not uncommon in maritime shipping. However, when such changes occur in proximity to deviations from a vessels’ behavioral pattern such as first-time visits, some questions must be asked.

    Why now? Who are the new owners? What other ships do they own?

    By analysing the behavioral history of the vessels involved and their owners, it becomes possible to better understand this recent event, and be more prepared for the next one. 

    The importance of predictive insights

    Basic rule-based algorithms are unable to filter out meaningful and insightful events from thousands of dynamic data points, and can easily miss out on crucial ownership and behavioral data for accurate risk mitigation. Windward’s artificial intelligence risk algorithm automatically flagged the EOLIKA as a high-risk vessel in December 2021 – long before its cargo was inspected in this recent event. While looking at this case, we also noticed 4 other high-risk vessels that are associated with the new beneficial owner of the EOLIKA – one of which actually visited that same region a few months ago and behaved in a suspiciously similar manner. Its cargo was not inspected at that time. 

    Frame 2
    The EOLIKA risk profile – showing it was flagged by Windward a month before its cargo was inspected       

    Protecting your borders with Maritime AI

    When it comes to Maritime Domain Awareness, manual screening is no longer sufficient. Government and border security entities must prioritize their limited and valuable resources and adopt a solution that can help them reach mission-critical decisions before threats hit home.

    With Windward’s predictive intelligence and actionable insights, law enforcement bodies can stay one step ahead of the bad guys, and make sure no risky behavior will go unnoticed.

    Contact us to learn more about how you can leverage Windward’s maritime AI to be better prepared for the next security threat.

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