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WCO makes a dent in counterfeit goods and narcotic drug shipments

30 junio 2012

WCO makes a dent in counterfeit goods and narcotic drug shipments

Brussels, 29 June 2012

Press Release

The Container Control Programme (CCP), a joint initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Customs Organization (WCO, continues to have an impressive success rate, yielding positive results at an ever-increasing pace through enhanced inspection of containers in order to detect illicit goods.

Initially established to counter drug trafficking, the CCP has rapidly expanded to become a major tool in tackling illicit trade, and since its inception the Programme has led to the seizure of 483 containers of fraudulent and contraband goods alongside a further 195 containers of drugs, the latter comprising more than 60 tons of cocaine, 49 tons of cannabis, and 807 tons of precursor chemicals used in the production of synthetic drugs.

A number of other black-market goods have also been discovered by countries participating in the Programme, ranging from endangered species to stolen luxury cars to priceless cultural artefacts and archaeological treasures; an indication of the wide variety of goods being traded by organized criminals around the world.

With more than 90% of global trade transported by sea and over 500 million maritime containers moving around the world each year, smuggling via containers is an attractive avenue for criminals; however with only 2% of all containers inspected, identifying illegal goods is a challenging task with criminal networks exploiting legitimate shipping routes to move their contraband.

Headway is nevertheless being made in tackling illicit trade through the CCP, which is proving to be a veritable tool in responding to transnational organized crime; more than 75% of all seizures made under the Programme concern illicit trade that is estimated by the UNODC to be in the region of 250 billion US dollars per year.

In addition to the impact that fraudulent goods have on legitimate businesses, many of these items can be particularly harmful, and even deadly, to consumers, such as counterfeit medicines, sub-standard electrical goods and fake heavy-duty machinery.

The growth and importance of the CCP’s work against counterfeit goods has been recognized by a major clothing and apparel manufacturer which has become the Programme’s first private sector donor; representing a key step in involving businesses with a vested interest in countering this aspect of a global crime, and offering a win-win situation for the private sector whose revenue and brands rely heavily on combating the fake trade.

To date, the CCP’s track record shows a marked impact on the detection of illicit goods, and following the introduction of the Programme in South America, seizures in CCP countries have risen: Costa Rica and Guatemala have seen a 10-fold increase in container drug seizures; the interception of counterfeit goods in Panama jumped from just three to 121 – a more than 4,000% climb; and between 2009 and 2010 no containers were found with precursor chemicals, however through the CCP, seizures between 2011 and now have so far totalled 22.

“The global Container Control Programme has achieved and continues to achieve spectacular results, intercepting maritime shipments of illicit drugs, endangered species, counterfeit goods and stolen cultural artefacts," said UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov. "The effects of this work speak for themselves, and with the expansion of this Programme into more and more countries, it will help authorities to further tackle criminal networks,” he added.

"The catalogue of successful seizures being made under the UNODC/WCO Container Control Programme is clear evidence that the training of Customs officials and other law enforcement agents is paying welcome dividends," said WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya. "In fact, the Programme is a best practice example of what two organizations can achieve through close international cooperation that is well coordinated," he added.

Building capacity, enhancing national cooperation and promoting coordinated border management in the enforcement area are the hallmarks of the CCP; enabling Customs administrations and other law enforcement agencies to better detect and intercept illicit trade through improved risk management and information-sharing, both concepts of which are embodied in instruments and tools developed by the WCO to ensure better border security.

The CCP presently has 28 operational port control units across 14 countries; located in major illicit drug producing regions, as well as maritime trade routes for the transhipment of illicit drugs, precursor chemicals and counterfeit goods, the Programme continues to improve national and international container security and cooperation.