World Customs Organisation (WCO) says 937 seizures of 6.78 tonnes of drugs, 2.325 tonnes of which were synthetic drugs, and more than 30 offenders arrested and detained were recorded during its recent Global Operation Against Looming Synthetic drugs (Operation GOALS).
According to WCO, further prosecutions are expected as investigations into the seizures are still ongoing.
The World Customs Organization (WCO) carried out the operation in collaboration with the WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for the Asia/Pacific region (RILO A/P) and the Korea Customs Service (KCS) after over two months intense activities recently.
“The success of this operation shows once again that strengthened coordination among the various stakeholders, entailing Customs-to-Customs collaboration, Customs-to-Business partnerships and Customs-to-Other Government Agencies cooperation, plays a key role in the fight against illicit trafficking”, said Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary-General.
Following the identification of illicit trafficking in synthetic drugs as a growing threat to international trade that needs to be addressed by Customs, Operation GOALS was initiated to promote coordinated responses by the international Customs community. The aim was to target illegal trafficking in synthetic drugs around the globe, covering all means of transport including air, land, sea and mail.
Operation GOALS was launched on 1 February 2021, bringing together 79 WCO Member Customs administrations, 8 WCO RILOs, and 11 international organizations and enforcement bodies, including the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), EUROPOL, INTERPOL, and Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs) from the Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP).
An Operational Coordination Unit (OCU) was set up with assistance from the WCO Secretariat. The OCU was managed by the RILO A/P in Korea to facilitate information exchange and provide technical support to participants.
In preparation for the operation, three online training workshops funded by the Korea Customs Cooperation Fund (CCF/Korea) were organized for participants in the Asia/Pacific, Europe and Africa, and Latin America regions on 15, 18 and 22 January 2021 respectively. These workshops were designed to further enhance participants’ ability to identify and analyse threats related to illicit drug trafficking, focusing in particular on synthetic drugs, risk indicators, profiling and targeting methods.
Participants also had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the use of CENcomm 3, the WCO’s secure communication platform for sharing information during the operation. The workshops were well received by participants and unquestionably contributed to the success of the operation.
The findings of Operation GOALS offer a greater understanding of new global trends in illicit drug trafficking, especially synthetic drugs, and are of particular value to decision-makers, policy-makers and law-makers, as well as to law enforcement agencies across the world.
The WCO Secretariat, in cooperation with the RILO A/P and KCS, will continue to provide support to its Member administrations and collaborate with international organizations and enforcement bodies to thwart the illegal drug trade.