UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme welcomes its first Caribbean members


22 August 2012

The Container Control Programme (CCP) was developed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) for the purpose of assisting governments in creating sustainable enforcement structures in selected seaports to minimize the risk of maritime containers being exploited and used for illicit drug trafficking, transnational organised crime, and other forms of black market activity.

The CCP has experienced rapid expansion in Latin America with significant successes. The following data reflect CCP results in the operational Ports Control Units in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama and Paraguay for the period January-August 2012:

  • Drugs: More than 10 tonnes of cocaine and heroin seized
  • Drug Precursors: 143,244 kg and 239,986 litres of various chemicals (to be confirmed)
  • Counterfeit Goods: 25 containers carrying a wide variety of products including pharmaceutical drugs and brand-name merchandise.
  • Cigarettes: 3 Container (dangerous for human consumption)
  • Cultural Heritage: 2 containers with 2 canons and 4 railway wheels dating back to 1909, stolen from Fort San Lorenzo, a UNESCO world heritage site, were seized in Panama
  • Protected Flora and Fauna: 3 containers carrying protected wood were seized.
  • Paleontological Heritage: 13,880 Kg of petrified wood (fossils dating back over 250 million years ago)

On 20 and 22 August the two first Caribbean States - Suriname and Guyana - signed MoUs with the UNODC and it is expected that on 15 October two operational units will start working in the biggest ports in the two countries.

As Latin American States implement measures to tighten and strengthen border control and security, the Caribbean has become even more vulnerable to the illicit flow of drugs through the exploitation of maritime containers. In 2011, Port Georgetown in Guyana registered the annual container traffic at 61,500 TEUs (59,850 TEUs in 2010), of which 38,799 TEUs were imports and 34,708 TEUs exported, while the most recent measurements from Suriname put the annual container traffic through Nieuwe Haven Port at 56,600 TEUs.

Guyana and Suriname, given their geographic locations and challenges, both face serious threats from transnational organised crime that directly affect the containerised trade supply chain. In this context, the Governments of Guyana and Suriname have both proactively expressed a strong interest in participating in the programme and have strongly promoted the establishment of cutting-edge inter-agency Port Control Units (PCU) in the main ports of their respective countries.

The signing of CCP MOUs by the Guyanese and Surinamese Governments is a key example of UNODC efforts to increase and revamp its presence in the Caribbean. These efforts will be further consolidated by the re-establishment of a UNODC Office for the Caribbean (under the Regional Office in Panama) which will become operational early 2013 and focus specifically on delivering programmes within the mandate of the UNODC that have been designed or adapted for the unique situation of the region.