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Costa Rica hosts UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme Regional Training

... From 9 to 12 July 2013, the UNODC - WCO Global Container Control Programme (CCP) facilitated a regional training on the use of the chemical substance analysis equipment known as HAZMAT. This training took place in San José, Costa Rica and participants from the CCP's Joint Port Control Units (JPCU) in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama attended. The HAZAMAT equipment plays a key role in the efficiency of the JPCUs, allowing the Units to carry out initial tests on suspicious substances and achieve immediate results, though not definitive, that could lead to the seizure of illicit materials.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Customs Organization (WCO) and variousCosta Rican security professionals carry out the mission of the Global Container Control Programme (CCP) in this country. The inter-institutional component of the program is demonstrated through the trainingof officials from Customs, the Costa Rican Institute on Drugs (ICD), the Directorate of the Fiscal Control Police, the Directorate of Intelligence and National Security, the Drug Control Police and the Coastguard.

The Container Control Programme is an initiative that was created with the purpose of assisting governments in the creation of sustainable structures of application in selected maritime ports to reduce the risk that maritime containers are exploited and utilized for the illicit trafficking of drugs, organized crime and other black market activities. Currently, the programme has operational units in the principal ports of 8 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Paraguay, Suriname, Guyana and Jamaica), with a total of 19 countries participating worldwide.

Upon the signing of the Agreement in 2010, the programme was implemented for 3 years. Given the results that have been obtained, a new document is currently under negotiation to extend the programme for another 3 years. Since its initial implementation, various activities within the frame of port security have been conducted with positive results.

At the forefront of this innovative approach are the Joint Port Control Units with a purely port-related, inter-institutional objective, made up of analysts and multidisciplinary law enforcement inspection teams. These teams are trained and equipped to work in an integrated manner while supporting the purpose of conducting risk profiles in a scientific and systematic manner on high-risk containers.

These processes are carried out through the use of proactive techniques and advanced information tools, such as the equipment that this training will cover, while minimizing the interruption of legitimate trade and creating greater efficacy in seizures.

Costa Rica has an Analysis Unit in San Jose and is planning to create another unit in Port Limón. Since its beginning in 2010 through July 2013, this Unit has achieved seizures of 1.6 tons of drugs, 9 containers with counterfeit goods of major brands and 2 containers of tax fraud.

It is important to note that Canada is the main donor country that has supported the development of this programme, thus demonstrating its high degree of concern and commitment to security and the support of legal trade in our region.