The WCO celebrates international anti-drugs day!

26 June 2010

The WCO celebrates international anti-drugs day!

Brussels, 26 June 2010

Press Release

Today, the WCO Secretariat is celebrating the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking alongside the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) with which it works closely as part of its drug enforcement programme.

Customs plays a significant role in the fight against this dangerous phenomenon since it is responsible for over half of all drug seizures worldwide.

“It is vital that we unite and coordinate our day-to-day efforts to combat, in all its forms and on every front, the creeping poison that is illicit drug trafficking, whose spread around the world is fuelled by globalization,” said WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya, who is counting on the active participation of WCO Members to combat this scourge.

In this connection, the Secretary General welcomed the outstanding results produced by Operation COCAIR2, aimed at intercepting shipments of cocaine and other drugs bound for Europe.

From 14-20 June 2010, Operation COCAIR2 brought together 22 countries from West and Central Africa together with Brazil and Morocco. This Operation, conducted under the leadership of the WCO Secretariat in partnership with the European Commission, INTERPOL and the UNODC, and with support from the WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs) for West Africa, Central Africa and Western Europe, was rolled out in 25 international airports.

Over the course of seven days, Customs services working closely with other drug enforcement agencies used CENcomm, the WCO’s secure communication system, within an Operational Coordination Unit (OCU) set up in Dakar (Senegal).

In this way, over 300 operational messages were shared via the CENcomm, and this widespread marshalling of forces in the field proved a resounding success, given that 25 significant seizures were made. Highlights include: 
  • 1 seizure of over three tonnes of chemical precursors in Côte d’Ivoire,
  • 1 seizure of 1,800 kilograms of herbal cannabis in Gabon,
  • 12 seizures, totalling in excess of 15 kilograms of cocaine, in Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Cape Verde and Mali,
  • Several interceptions of capital, weapons and works of art.

A rapid analysis of the Operation results bears out the trend noted since 2005 in terms of a somewhat uncharacteristic route taken by shipments of South American cocaine bound for Europe, via certain countries in West Africa and, to a lesser extent, Central Africa.

It is also worth drawing attention to the large number of Nigerian traffickers implicated in this drug route within Africa, in view of the fact that they account for 80% of the cocaine couriers arrested (having swallowed the drugs or concealed them in baggage).

Lastly, the notable seizure of chemical precursors bound for Benin and Guinea, made by Customs officers from Côte d’Ivoire, shows that the African continent should now be added to the list of countries that import precursors to manufacture drugs.

Looking beyond this immediate success, reflected by the quantities of drugs seized, other objectives of the Operation were achieved, especially strengthening controls within airports, raising airport inspection services’ awareness of the risk of smuggling, gathering information on the status of cocaine trafficking and enhancing information sharing between Customs and police services.

The figures speak for themselves, yet even though this mobilization of all the stakeholders yielded results, we still have a long way to go if we are to eradicate this scourge!