First results of a regional operation targeting illegal activities led by terrorist groups

22 avril 2020

The Customs administrations of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines joined forces in support of an operation mounted by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and INTERPOL targeting suspected transnational terrorist organizations and organized crime groups operating in the maritime border areas between the four nations.

The Operation, code-named MAHARLIKA 3, was executed from 24 February to 20 March 2020. Customs administrations were specifically asked to strengthen enforcement efforts targeting the smuggling of precursor chemicals and components used in the manufacture of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), as well as bulk cash smuggling.

The operational results from Operation MAHARLIKA 3 included:

  • The arrest of a wanted person who is a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
  • The seizure of three firearms of various calibers and illegally assembled dynamite made of ammonium nitrate.
  • The rescue of a total of 82 victims of human trafficking and the arrest of four human traffickers.
  • The arrest of 182 suspects, mostly related to Immigration and Customs offences and the seizure of prohibited goods/substances with an estimated total value of EUR 902,000.
  • Confiscation of almost 22 kg of Methamphetamine – estimated to be worth EUR 247,000.
  • Detection of 300,000 Malaysian Ringgit (EUR 62,771)of undeclared cash..

“Cooperation at the national and international level between enforcement services is vital to achieving security outcomes. In concrete terms, cooperation means effective information exchange and well-coordinated joint operational activity.  I am confident that strong relations between participants have been forged and that we can look forward to the further strengthening of counter-terrorism efforts in the future as a result”, declared WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya.

Operation MAHARLIKA 3 demonstrates the key role that Customs administrations play in security related matters and, more specifically, in tackling illicit cross-border movements of goods and illicit money that support terrorist organizations.