Thailand Joins Global Container Control Program
Thailand has joined the global Container Control Program, a United Nations initiative aimed at minimizing the exploitation of maritime containers for the illicit trafficking of drugs, weapons and other illegal goods.
The program was launched by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) in 2004.
“The cooperation between the Thai Customs Department and the UNODC will considerably improve the control of the containerized trade supply chain by enhancing detection of illicit activities and seizure of illegal goods,” Paisal Chuenjit, deputy director general of the Thai Customs Department, said at the agreement- signing ceremony, reports Xinhua.
Over 500 million sea containers transfer 90 percent of world cargo across the globe every year with over half of these containers originating from, in transit through or destined for the countries of Southeast Asia.
The Container Control Program (CCP) has notched up some stunning successes in its 10 years of existence. In 2013 alone, it boasted seizures of 23 tons of cocaine, around 6 tons of cannabis, 1.2 tons of heroin, 60 tons of the chronic pain medication Tramadol and 725kg of ivory. Counterfeit goods intercepted in 119 containers would stack up 309m high, 8m taller than the Eiffel Tower.
CCP teams are trained to identify high-risk containers using a combination of high-tech profiling techniques, human intelligence and traditional hands-on methods. More than 550 officials were trained in 2013, 12 percent of whom were women.
“Traffickers and organized crime groups exploit weak and ineffective port controls, using sophisticated and ingenious concealment methods to smuggle contraband,” said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC. “This joint program has made real inroads into illicit activity and is helping front-line personnel stay ahead of the criminals.”
“Today’s globalized trade environment poses a number of common challenges to states in containing the illicit flow of goods,” said Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of WCO. “The program offers an effective solution to countries in coordinating and managing law enforcement responses at seaports and dry ports across the globe”.
Operating in around 20 countries, the CCP helps governments improve their law enforcement capacity, thereby preventing drug trafficking and other illegal activity, while also facilitating legitimate trade.
Under the program, joint operations are conducted by law enforcement authorities at ports of origin, transit and destination. Secure information exchange systems, such as the ContainerCOMM that was developed by the WCO to facilitate the transmission of sensitive intelligence, have played a key role in supporting CCP port control units worldwide.
Since its launch, the CCP has established more than 30 operational port control units, leading to significantly increased detections and confiscation of drugs and other illicit goods, including more than 95 tons of cocaine, 3 tons of heroin, 60 tons of cannabis, and 1,273,000 tons of precursor chemicals used to manufacture illicit drugs, as well as cigarettes, luxury cars, medicines, electronic waste, hazardous materials and wildlife.
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