90% of World's Cargo Shipped Every Year Uninspected, Allowing Narcotics, Weapons to Enter Countries Undetected.

Human Wrongs Watch

An estimated 500 million containers accounting for 90 per cent  of the world’s cargo are shipped around the world every year virtually uninspected, allowing consignments of narcotics, weapons and other illegal goods to enter countries undetected, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).*



UNODC has also informed that most containers carry licit goods, but some are being used to smuggle drugs, weapons, even people.

The sheer volume of this international maritime container traffic, the sophisticated and often ingenious concealment methods, along with the diverse routings adopted by illicit drug traffickers and other smugglers, invariably makes successful interdiction difficult.

Intercepted, 309 Metres High of Counterfeit Good — 8 Metres Taller than Eiffel Tower

The global Container Control Programme (CCP) was established in 2004 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) to thwart these criminal activities by pooling the strengths of customs and other law enforcement bodies.

The CCP has notched up some stunning successes in its 10 years of existence. In 2013 alone, it boasted seizures of 23 metric tons (mt) of cocaine, around 6mt of cannabis, 1.2 mt of heroin, 60mt of the chronic pain medication tramadol and 725kg of ivory.

Counterfeit goods were intercepted in 119 containers, which would stack up 309 metres high, 8 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower.

“Traffickers and Organized Crime Groups Exploit Weak, Ineffective Port Controls…”

Around the world seaports can process up to 50,000 containers daily. Against this background, 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 per cent of whom were women.

Human trafficking and migrant smuggling | UNODC

Human trafficking and migrant smuggling | UNODC

“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 Programme 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 Programme offers an effective solution to countries in coordinating and managing law enforcement responses at seaports and dry ports across the globe”.

Operating in 20 countries today – the latest being Moldova which joined [on 16 December 2014]-, the CCP helps Governments to improve their law enforcement capacity, thereby preventing drug trafficking and other illegal activity, while also facilitating legitimate trade.

Poised to expand into the inspection of air cargo, the Programme has set up a pilot project at Pakistan’s Karachi airport as a first step.

Detections, Confiscation of Drugs and Other Illicit Good, Significantly Increased 

Under the Programme, joint operations are conducted by law enforcement authorities at ports of origin, transit, and destination. Secure information exchange systems, such as ContainerCOMM 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 inception, 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 95mt of cocaine, 3mt of heroin, 60 mt of cannabis, and 1,273,000 mt of precursor chemicals used to manufacture illicit drugs, as well as cigarettes, luxury cars, medicines, electronic waste, hazardous materials and wildlife.

Further information at: UNODC/WCO Container Control Programme

*Source: UN Office on Drugs and Crime‘s report released on 17 December 2014. Learn More About UNODC.

Read also:

‘Most Ships Involved in Arms and Drugs Trafficking Are Based in Western Countries’

Transnational Organised Crime in Southeast Asia Alone Worth Over USD $100 Billion per Year

Illegal Trade in Wildlife and Timber Worth Over $200 Billion a Year, and Helps Finance Organized Crime and Terrorist Groups

UN Urges Prosecution to End Impunity for Drug Trafficking on High Seas

West African Stability Still Endangered by Global Traffickers – UN Warns

Afghan Opium Crop Cultivation Rises 7 % in 2014 — Opium Production Could Climb by 17 %

2014 Human Wrongs Watch

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