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The CCP in Latin America and the Caribbean

The UNODC-WCO Global Container Control Programme is not only operational in Latin America, but it is also active, highly successful and rapidly expanding as a result of requests from various Governments to join the CCP which has been combined with the injection of new funds. In 2012, the United States made an injection of funds totaling 1.95 million USD and more recent funding has also been received for the creation of operational Joint Port Control Units (JPCUs) in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, each of which have expressed an interest in establishing operational JPCUs in 2013.

In Latin America, operational Joint Port Control Units (JPCUs) already exist in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama and Paraguay. However, the CCP has also been gaining significant momentum in the Caribbean. In August 2012, Suriname and Guyana signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoU), becoming the first Caribbean States to join the Programme. These first Caribbean Members were quickly followed by Jamaica which signed a CCP MoU in November 2012 and is expected to have operational JPCUs in early 2013.  Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic have also all shown interest in the Programme and are expected to join the CCP and have operational units in 2013.

The rapid expansion of the CCP in Latin America and the Caribbean has been fuelled largely in part by the impressive results the project has delivered since beginning operations in the region.

Latin American Countries with operational JPCUs Operational JPCU(s)
Costa Rica JPCU in San José which covers: Port Limón, Port Caldera and Port Moin
Ecuador JPCU in Guayaquil which covers: Port Comtecom and TPG. JPCU in Machala which covers: Port Bolivar
Guatemala JPCU in Port of Quetzal. JPCU in Port Barrios which also covers Port Santo Tomás de Castilla
Guyana JPCU in Port of Georgetown.
Jamaica JPCUs in the Kingston and Montego Bay Ports
Panama

JPCU in Balboa which covers the Port of Balboa. JPCU in the Port of Colón which covers Port of Manzanillo, Colón Container Terminal and Port of Cristobal.

Paraguay JPCU in Asunción which covers all ports in Paraguay
Suriname JPCU in Paramaribo in the New Haven Port.

A Regional UNODC CCP Programme Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean, one National Expert, one Programme Assistant and one Junior Assistanct are already based in Panama at UNODC ROPAN. This team is responsible for planning, coordinating and implementing all programme activities in the region and it is expected to expand within the coming 6 months.

The CCP's regional approach is centred on making the best possible use of institutional capacities and resources. It also enables law enforcement experts to be more easily identified and to apply best practices developed in the region. Participation in the Global Container Control Programme enables the countries to improve the information exchange between law enforcement agencies regionally and internationally. The law enforcement agencies in the destination countries also benefit from the enhanced capabilities of their counterparts in Latin America. Information exchange and container alerts, for example, play an important role, not only in facilitating inspections, but also in the advance planning of target operations, the deployment of specialist investigation techniques, and in post seizure investigations.

JPCUs in Latin America: A break-down by country

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica, like many other countries in Central America and the Caribbean, is increasingly being targeted by drug traffickers for the importation and transhipment of cocaine. Legitimate national exports in maritime containers, particularly those to Europe, Canada and the US, are particularly vulnerable.

Counterpart law-enforcement institutions in Costa Rica include Customs, the National Drug Control Institute (INCD), the National Police, the Fiscal Police and the Coast Guard. In 2009, Costa Rica adopted an inter-institutional cooperation agreement.

In March 2010, the JPCU in the port of Caldera on the Pacific seaboard became operational through contributions from the Caldera Port Association, Business Alliance for Secure Commerce (BASC) and ICD. However, this PCU was closed in 2011 and a new JPCU opened in the capital San Jose where profiling work now takes place.

The following seizures have been made by the Costa Rica JPCU in 2012:

SEIZURE

QUANTITY

COMMENTS

Cocaine

1,311 kg

 

intellectual Property

5 containers

1059 cartons of multiple goods and brands

 

ECUADOR

Guayaquil, the country's principal seaport, has long been targeted by regional traffickers for bulk transhipment of cocaine in maritime containers. It also handles imported chemicals, some of which are diverted for illicit purposes. Other issues include the smuggling of contraband and counterfeit  goods (copyright protected), as well as endangered species.

Counterpart law enforcement institutions include the Customs Corporation (CAE) including its operational arm the Customs Surveillance Service (SVA), the National Council for Control of Illegal Drugs (CONSEP) and the National Police Drugs Directorate (PNE-DNA).

In 2004, the Government of Ecuador and the UNODC signed a Letter of Agreement and by March 2006 an operational JPCU was established in the Guayaquil seaport, staffed by 6 trained analysts (3 police officers and 3 Customs officers) and 2 team leaders from the Police and Customs.

The JPCU is supported on-site by police drug teams, the police under water search unit, CONSEP officials (responsible for chemical controls), as well as the Port Operator. The JPCU works in close coordination with other specialized PNE drug units and with the Public Prosecutors Office, whose representatives have all participated in the various CCP training activities.

The following seizures have been made at the Ecuadorian JPCU in 2012:

 

SEIZURE

QUANTITY

COMMENTS

Cocaine

9,980 kg

including alerts

Heroine

32 kg

including alerts

Protected Flora and Fauna

1 container with protected wood; 2 containers carrying 50 kg of sea cucumbers; and 7 sacks of seahorses

-

Containers

1,379 containers

Seized due to various infractions on customs regulations

 

The PCU in Guayaquil is the focal point for the coordination of all drug/crime related information within the port as well as 4 other smaller ports and container terminals in the Guayaquil area and continues to intercept significant amounts of cocaine in maritime containers, from the JPCU by way of alerts to Customs colleagues in Europe which have led to the seizure of 3,587 kg of drugs in Europe and the Caribbean.  In one such case, a canoe was seen alongside a vessel before departure, information was forwarded to the destination, Belgium, and a seizure of 19kg was made on arrival. Two persons were also arrested.

 

GUATEMALA

The Government of Guatemala and the UNODC signed a Memorandum of Agreement in February 2011 and two (2) PCUs became operational in March 2011. Counterpart organizations working within the CCP partnership are Customs, Navy, Police and the National Port Commission.

The following seizures have been made by Guatemalan JPCUs in 2012:

SEIZURE

QUANTITY

COMMENTS

Cocaine

232 kg

including alerts

Drug Precursors

261,986 L and 169, 840 kg

various chemicals (TBC)

 

GUYANA

Guyana is one of the first Caribbean countries to join the CCP and establish a JPCU. Despite its recent induction into the programme, 350 kg of cocaine have already been seized as a result of CCP operations.

 

PANAMA

Given Panama's strategic geographical location and considerable maritime and commercial infrastructures, including the Colon Free Trade Zone (FTZ), the participation of this country in the CCP is significant. In particular, Panama is a major hub for the transhipment of maritime containers including those originating in cocaine producer/transit countries in South America (Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) en route to Europe and North America via the Panama Canal. More than 11 million containers pass through the Panama Canal each year and this amount is expected to double given the expansion of the Canal which is estimated to be completed in 2014. Given the immense volume of maritime container traffic passing through the canal, it is routinely exploited by transnational organized crime groups for the transhipment of illicit drugs and precursors, contraband goods, intellectual property rights (IPR) material and for money laundering intentions.

Counterpart institutions are the National Customs Authority (ANA) the Public Prosecutors Office (Drug Prosecution Unit), the National Police Department (DIP), the Judicial Police Department (DIJ), the National Coastguard (SENAN), the National Security Council (CSPDN) and the Maritime Institution (AMP). A 3·year inter-institutional cooperation agreement was adopted in June 2009.

PCUs became operational at the Manzanillo International Terminal in Colon for the Atlantic seaboard and at the port of Balboa for the Pacific seaboard in October 2009. Each PCU is staffed by 7 selected and vetted operatives from the relevant institutions.

In November 2012, Panama hosted the 6 th Annual Reunion of the CCP. To date the meeting has only been held at the HQ of either the UNODC in Vienna or that of the WCO in Brussels. Hence, Panama became the first country, aside from those which house HQs, to host this high-level meeting.

The following seizures have been made by Panamanian JPCUs in 2012:

SEIZURE

QUANTITY

COMMENTS

Cocaine

1,199 kg

including alerts

Drug Precursors

2, 144 kg

various chemicals (TBC)

Counterfeit

26 containers with over 10,043 cartons of counterfeit goods

different products and multiple brands

Cigarettes

4 containers

Expired/ dangerous for human consumption

Protected Flora and Fauna

4 containers carrying protected wood

Wood: Cocobolo, Dalbergia retusa and Guayacan

Medicaments

2 containers

Expired medicine / at high temperatures (dry container)

Cultural Heritage

2 containers carrying 2 canons and 4 Railway wheels dating back to 1909

Canons were stolen from Fort San Lorenzo, a Panama UNESCO world heritage site; the railway wheels dated back to 1909

Contraband

2 containers

Alcoholic Drinks

 


PARAGUAY

The geographical location of Paraguay is strategic for the traffic of drugs, contraband, illegal firearms and people. Paraguay is currently considered the main zone of transit and offset through which passes a large percentage of the cocaine produced in Bolivia and Peru, with regional, European and North American destinations.

Paraguay has territorial borders with Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina. This location makes it a convenient point of transit between the West and East in the Southern Cone, with land access to the three previously mentioned countries, and with access to Uruguay by river. Each year, between 30 and 40 metric tons of cocaine produced in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia pass through Paraguay. A small portion is directed towards the United States while the majority is destined for Brazil, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The porous borders of Paraguay present a challenge to State authorities to control the borders and prevent them from being exploited for illicit activity by traffickers.

In an effort to strengthen the States border control capacity, Paraguay signed a 3-year inter-institutional cooperation agreement and became part of the CCP in September 2011. The counterpart institutions involved are National Customs, the National Drug Secretary and the National Police.

The following seizures have been made by the JPCU in Paraguay in 2012:

SEIZURE

QUANTITY

COMMENTS

Cocaine

329 kg

including alerts

Paleontological Heritage

13,880 kg Petrified Wood

fossils dating over 250 million years

Intellectual Property

2 containers

Games, consoles and accessories

 

24-Feb

COCAINE

225 Kg

Rip-off

24-Feb

COCAINE

120Kg

Rip-Off

10-May

COCAINE

100 Kg

Rip-Off

10-May

COCAINE

200 Kg

Rip-Off