24 April 2018 - Every year, more than 720 million containers move around the globe by sea, transporting 90 per cent of the world's cargo. Most carry licit goods, but some are being used to smuggle drugs, weapons, and other illicit goods.
Amid threats posed by transnational organized crime, UNODC and the World Customs Organization (WCO), through the Container Control Programme (CCP), seek to improve the capacity of customs and law enforcement officials in Latin America and the Caribbean, among others, to detect and disrupt the flow of illicitly trafficked goods, while facilitating legitimate trade and raising state revenues.
In 2018, the joint customs and police Port Control Units (PCU) have made significant seizures of drugs, precursor chemicals, merchandise breaching Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and protected wildlife. Recently, the PCU in Ecuador has seized two contaminated containers with over a tonne of cocaine. Similarly, the PCU in Brazil achieved the largest cocaine seizure in history of Santos, capturing more than 2.8 tons of cocaine. The Unit in the Port of Callao interdicted a container with 1.5 tons of cocaine hidden inside.
UNODC experts cited 18 operations that netted more than 8.9 tons of drugs in addition to the detention of 18 containers due to IPR infringements.
Speaking about the results, Tofik Murshudlu, UNODC's Chief of the Implementation Support Section, said: "CCP has become one of the most effective and result oriented programmes worldwide. It helps Member States build capacities and expertise to identify and seize suspicious container shipments of drugs, firearms, precursors, counterfeit medicines, wildlife species, smuggled goods and many others."
"CCP's tools and methodologies help to build barriers for illicit containerised shipments while facilitating legal trade," he added.
CCP offers capacity building trainings in countries seeking to improve risk management, supply chain security and trade facilitation in sea, land and airports in order to prevent the cross-border movement of illicit goods. This includes assistance through regular follow-ups and onsite visits combined with mentoring of PCUs. Further, steering committee meetings and discussions with key stakeholders are held on a regular basis.
CCP operates in 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Surinam. The Programme soon will expand to Bolivia and Colombia while negotiations with Mexico are ongoing.
Through CCP, UNODC and WCO assist Governments to create sustainable enforcement structures in selected seaports in order to minimize the risk of shipping containers being exploited for illicit drug trafficking, transnational organized crime and other forms of black market activity. The United States, Canada and the European Union are among the programme's donors.