WCO RILO WE presents its Annual Report 2020 at the Annual Meeting of the Council of Europe - Pompidou Airports Group

16 July 2021

The WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) Western Europe (WE) presented its “Annual Report 2020 - Review of Drug Seizures at European Airports and Mail Centres” at the Annual Meeting of the Council of Europe (CoE) - Pompidou Airports Group on 15 June 2021. This Annual Report, containing information on new trends and practices in drug trafficking, is a key tool for law enforcement officers working at airports, mail centres and intelligence services.

The analysis contained in the Report is based on seizures logged by WCO Members through the WCO Customs Enforcement Network (CEN). The Report was drafted by analysts from the RILO WE and is one of the main outcomes of the long-term collaboration between the RILO and the CoE - Pompidou Airports Group.

The 2020 edition contains reports, submitted by WCO Members of the Pompidou Airports Group, covering a total of over 23 metric tons of illegal drugs of all kinds discovered both in mail centres and in passenger channels at airports. In 81% of all reported cases, the illegal substances were seized in mail centres. A growth in seizures (by number and total annual volume) in mail consignments has been noted for several years now.

Some 51% of all illegal substances were seized during arrival/import controls, thus preventing them from entering the European market or being shipped around the world. An intensification of checks at departure, export and transit by Customs, Police and Border Forces is highlighted in the reported data.

As in previous years, cocaine accounted for the largest share by far of drug seizures, equating to 31% of all reported cases. Cannabis seizures saw the highest increase in 2020, both in terms of the number of cases and total amount confiscated. Larger amounts of MDMA (or Ecstasy) and (meth) amphetamine from Europe were distributed globally than within Europe.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions on travel, together with border closures, have posed new challenges for criminal organizations in terms of drug trafficking. Based on the cases reported and analysed in this Report, no conclusions can be drawn as to the extent to which these new factors have influenced the situation at airports and mail centres.

This Pompidou Airports Group, with participation by Customs, Police, Border Forces and other law enforcement agencies worldwide, aims to develop and harmonize tools and systems to improve drug detection in European airports. The Group meets once a year and serves primarily as a forum for exchanging information on practical measures and operational procedures to combat drug trafficking via commercial aviation.
The overall objective of the Group’s Annual Meeting is to reduce illicit trafficking through improved controls, risk management and profiling, detection and investigation activities by enhancing the knowledge and expertise of law enforcement officers working at major airports, based on risk assessment, awareness-raising, exchange of information, sharing of best practices and networking through multidisciplinary cooperation.

The Report is for official use only and may be requested at rilowe@rilo-we.org.