Action by the Customs Co-operation Council to combat illicit drug trafficking
Author: G. D. GOTSCHLICH
Pages: 79 to 81
Creation Date: 1983/01/01
Since its establishment in 1953, the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC) has been actively involved in combating illicit drug trafficking. CCC has adopted legal measures designed to meet the requirements of member States in their efforts to promote the prevention, investigation and repression of customs offences, including drug smuggling. CCC studies patterns and trends in d rug trafficking and promotes ways and means of detecting drug smuggling and financial transactions related to such smuggling. CCC publishes studies and handbooks that serve as practical guides to national customs administrations of member States. In its work to combat drug trafficking, the CCC cooperates with the United Nations bodies concerned with drug control and the International Criminal Police Organizations (ICPO/Interpol).
Combating drug smuggling is an important element in the struggle against drug abuse since it attacks the illicit supply of drugs which is very often organized on an international basis. Since its foundation in 1953, the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC) has undertaken various measures to combat drug smuggling. These measures are intended to meet the requirements of countries seeking appropriate means of combating customs fraud and smuggling of all types. The traditional control functions assigned to customs services at frontiers, ports and airports give them a key role in the prevention, investigation and repression of offences involving illicit drug trafficking, irrespective of the means of transport involved. CCC. is, therefore, concerned with both the legal measures and more practical, technical measures of combating drug smuggling in cargo, by mail and by travellers.
Legal measures to combat drug smuggling
CCC has drawn up legal instruments to meet the requirements of national customs administrations of member States. Such legal measures allow for adaptation and supplementary provisions so as to best respond to the needs of member States. Some of these instruments are concerned with customs fraud in general and hence include drug smuggling, such as:
The 1953 recommendation on mutual administrative assistance;
The 1975 recommendation on the pooling of information concerning customs fraud;
The 1967 Convention, which is a model for bilateral mutual administrative assistance adopted by CCC to assist member States wishing to conclude bilateral agreements.
In 1967, CCC adopted a resolution for the prevention of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and, in 1975, a recommendation on the spontaneous exchange of information about illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
The International Convention on mutual administrative assistance for the prevention, investigation and repression of customs offences, adopted by CCC at Nairobi on 9 June 1977, should gradually replace the international legal instruments that are applied at present. The Nairobi Convention entered into force on 21 May 1980 and now has 14 contracting parties. Annex x of this Convention is concerned specifically with action against the smuggling of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and financial operations undertaken in connection with such smuggling.
Finally, CCC has adopted a recommendation on the control of goods transported by containers if an inquiry shows that such containers are used for drug smuggling.
The legal instruments provide for liaison with the United Nations bodies responsible for international drug control. They also take account of the measures that can be introduced at the national level to co-ordinate the activities of the various services involved in combating illicit drug trafficking.
CCC works to promote the extensive application of its legal instruments by member States and adapts and supplements these instruments in conformity with new requirements as they emerge.
Practical methods of combating drug smuggling are particularly examined by the Enforcement Working Party and the newly created
Enforcement Committee at their meetings and by the Customs Investigation Services. In an effort to promote the role of the customs in combating fraud, these bodies consider :
Trends in the illicit trafficking of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and psychotropic substances ;
Information on new smuggling techniques ;
Means of detecting drug smuggling, such as technical aids and detector dogs ;
Training of enforcement specialists through seminars, courses and workshops.
They also study a variety of other measures such as those relating to financial transactions connected with drug smuggling, controlled delivery and measures against smuggling of drugs by post.
CCC publishes studies and handbooks that are regularly updated and that provide practical guides to national customs administrations in their struggle against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Particularly useful for drug control activities is a nomenclature of places of concealment and methods of smuggling, which contains an illustrative catalogue. A catalogue of available technical aids to drug enforcement has also been published. In addition, the secretariat regularly updates a list of officials responsible for maintaining direct personal contacts with persons involved in the mutual administrative assistance. Such assistance is described in Handbook Enforcement,a publication of CCC intended to assist member States. A handbook describing practical methods for dealing with drug smuggling in containers will appear in the beginning of 1984.
All these activities are carried out in co-operation with the United Nations bodies concerned with international drug control and Interpol. In particular, this co-operation takes the form of joint studies or analyses of specific aspects of drug trafficking and meetings on subjects of mutual interest.