Illicit drugs backbone of organized crime, UNODC says; urges better information sharing, coordination, cooperation

Busan (Republic of Korea), 13 September 2012
- At the opening of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office (SPO) of Korea's 22nd annual Anti-Drug Liaison Officials' Meeting for International Cooperation (ADLOMICO), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) urged attendees to stay focused on the threat posed by organized crime and illicit drugs.

"In this region, illicit drugs remain among the highest-value illicit commodities trafficked internationally," said Mr. Gary Lewis, UNODC Regional Representative for East Asia and the Pacific. "Illicit drugs remain the backbone of transnational organized crime. All together, they command the largest share of revenues. They fuel violence, corruption, conflict and addiction.

"We cannot afford to take our eyes off the drug threat."

Speaking on behalf of Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, Mr. Gary Lewis, said: "Sound law enforcement and effective prosecutions are essential elements for successful international drug control. This is why an annual event such as ADLOMICO is so important in the drug law enforcement calendar of Asia.

"UNODC congratulates the Korean Supreme Prosecutors' Office on this remarkable - and consistent - achievement over the past 22 years."

Since its inception in 1989, ADLOMICO has assumed an important role in drug control by promoting cooperation among law enforcement officers and prosecutors from Member States.

ADLOMICO gives participating drug law enforcement officers and prosecutors an opportunity to share experiences and information on drugs. It allows them to reinforce a common understanding and agree to joint action to better control the supply and demand for illicit drugs and the precursor chemicals used to manufacture them.

Attendees this year came from over 31 countries in East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Africa.

Reflecting the importance attached by the SPO to information sharing, a significant event at ADLOMICO this year was the official establishment on 11 September of the Asia-Pacific Information and Coordination Center for Combating Drug Crimes (APICC).

APICC aims to counter transnational organized crime relating to drugs trafficking by strengthening information-sharing networks among drug control agencies. Developed following initiatives by the Supreme Prosecutors' Office (SPO) of Korea at the 2009 ADLOMICO meetings, APICC member states include all ASEAN Member States except Malaysia AND Myanmar, both of which have expressed an interest in participating in APICC. The Secretariat of the APICC is located in the SPO. It will be staffed by seconded officers from APICC member states.

"APICC will enhance international cooperation between member countries in the region in more effective and efficient ways," said Mr. Han Sang Dae, Prosecutor General of Korea. "APICC will lay the groundwork for organizing counternarcotics supports tailored to the needs of ASEAN member countries suffering from drug-related problems.

"Korean Prosecution will make sure this centre functions as a clearinghouse for anti-drug authorities in Asia-Pacific countries," Mr. Han vowed.

Mr. Lewis urged concerted information-sharing, cooperation and coordination at both the regional and international levels to defeat criminal networks.

"To succeed, will always require building efficient national criminal intelligence agencies and sharing information among them, and across borders. We need to understand the threat better. For this, we need to improve the quality of the information we have - and to better share it among ourselves.

"But we also need to understand the broader picture. UNODC's upcoming Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (TOCTA) - East Asia and the Pacific report will sharpen our focus on the extent and nature of the threat."