UN Program Organizes Crackdown on Containerized Smuggling

A successful drug bust in Brazil, part of Operation 'Sports Bag-2" (UNODC)

Published Sep 21, 2018 5:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

According to the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime, a recent international operation to crack down on containerized drug shipments netted 5,800 kilos of cocaine in 14 separate seizures around the globe. 

44 countries and 52 seaports participated in the two-week enforcement operation, "Sports Bag-2," which was held under the UNODC-World Customs Organization (WCO) Container Control Programme (CCP). In particular, the sting targeted "rip on and rip off" trafficking - the contamination of legitimate containerized shipments with drugs, often packed in sports bags. 

The partners in the operation also worked together to identify new smuggling trends, improve risk profiling, develop inspection techniques and promote cooperation with industry. "This international operational exercise illustrated the cooperation, determination, solidarity and connectivity between the Port Control Units, Europe and the Northern American countries in fighting international drug trafficking," said Ketil Ottersen, Senior Programme Coordinator at UNODC.

Last year's Operation "Sports Bag" netted about 7,100 kilos of cocaine in 19 seizures. UNODC says that with more than 90 per cent of the world's cargo transported by sea, CCP and similar programs are essential to ensuring the security and integrity of the international supply chain. The agency operates in 50 counties, and over the years its work has contributed to the seizure of 240 tons of cocaine, 6 tons of heroin, 1600 tons of drug precursors, 70 tons of cannabis products and 750 containers of counterfeit goods, among other outcomes.