Customs operation nets exceptional quantities of drugs in postal parcels

20 November 2012

Customs operation nets exceptional quantities of drugs in postal parcels

Brussels, 20 November 2012

Press Release

Operation SKY NET

More than 941 parcels containing drugs or precursor chemicals were seized in the course of a Customs enforcement operation targeting postal and express mail channels, resulting in the discovery by Customs officials of over 9.5 tonnes of illicit products, including cocaine, heroin, opium methamphetamines and anabolic steroids.

Organized by the World Customs Organization (WCO) in close cooperation with China Customs, the Operation codenamed “SKY-NET” took place from 10 September to 28 October 2012 with the participation of 68 WCO Members, five WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices and the active support of INTERPOL.

Postal channels are being exploited by criminal entrepreneurs across the globe on a daily basis,” said WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya. “Operation SKY-NET shows the magnitude of this illicit and potentially dangerous trade and the need for Customs to address it in close cooperation with the Post and other relevant partners,” he added.

Quantities of illicit drugs and chemical precursors seized by Customs include:

  • 2,979 kg of psychotropic substances, such as methamphetamine, amphetamine, methaqualone and MDMA;
  • 100,000 ampoules, as well as 239 kg, of anabolic steroids;
  • 2,005 kg of khat;
  • 940 kg of herbal and resin cannabis;
  • 188 kg of opiates, such as heroin and opium;
  • 167 kg of cocaine;
  • 2,928 kg of precursor chemicals, including alpha-phenylacetoacetonitrile (APAAN), pseudoephedrine and ephedrine used to produce methamphetamine.

The Operation aimed to gather information on the status of trafficking in drugs and precursor chemicals being moved around the world in postal and express parcels, particularly the routes taken, the types of consignors and consignees, the types of goods, the declared values, and the methods of concealment.

Collecting and analysing the data will enable enforcement authorities to better respond to the risks posed by the postal and express freight sector, given the high volume of trade flows, the large number of operators and sub-contractors involved and the limited information available to select potentially illicit items, such as fake consignors or consignees, incorrect delivery address, etc.

The lack of quality information for Customs risk purposes has been a matter of concern to the WCO and its 179 Members, however the recent decision by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) providing a legal basis for postal services to transmit advance electronic data to Customs will vastly improve targeting efforts by Customs, thus leading to more secure trade.

SKY-NET participants exchanged information and intelligence during the Operation via CENcomm, the secure and encrypted communication tool developed by the WCO which was tailored to meet operational requirements.