World Customs Organization2004-06-25 08:57:37

THE WCO ISSUES ITS "2003 CUSTOMS AND DRUGS" REPORT
COMBATING ILLICIT TRAFFICKING IS A LONG-TERM STRUGGLE

Brussels, 25 June 2004 - Today, the WCO issued its "2003 Customs and Drugs" Report to coincide with the Organization's annual Council sessions. Based on the information provided by its Members, the facts and figures contained in the report highlight the ever-present need for joint efforts by all law enforcement agencies in terms of co-operation and information exchange.

"Between 2002 and 2003, the number of seizures has increased by almost 15%. The fight against illicit drug trafficking is one of Customs administrations' top priorities worldwide. We know it will be a long-term struggle," WCO Secretary General Michel Danet said.

The report confirms certain trends set in previous years. Afghanistan remains the world's largest opium source, while Morocco remains the main source country for cannabis resin, especially for the Western European market. Likewise, Asia/Pacific accounts for 98% of the world's methamphetamine seizures, illustrating the fact that this drug continues to be a huge problem in the region.

The report shows that the traditional "Northern Balkan Route"(1) has grown in importance, while the reverse is true for the "Southern Balkan Route"(2). Heroin seized in the Russian Federation comes mainly from Kazakhstan via the Silk Route(3). The increased quantities of opium from Kazakhstan seized in the Russian Federation suggest that greater use is being made of the Silk Route.

"Seizures have increased. While this indeed proves that drug trafficking is on the rise, such seizures also reflect the professionalism of Customs officers around the world," according to Michel Danet.

2003 was a record year for cocaine seizures by Customs, peaking at 64 tonnes worldwide. This equates to a 35% increase over 2002. Almost 87% of the cocaine seizures reported were made in Western Europe.

In terms of herbal cannabis, Jamaica is now the main source for the United Kingdom, while Morocco and Albania are the main sources for continental Europe.

More than 7 tonnes of heroin were seized in 2003.

Norwegian Customs has reported a new trend of "dried khat". The active cathin remains intact during the drying process, meaning that the dried khat could be up to five times stronger than the fresh variety. This new development might lead to a change in trafficking patterns in 2004.

"Our Members have to co-operate more fully by reporting all drug seizures, trends and trafficking methods to the WCO. This will help us to tailor and refine our enforcement strategies and adapt our Customs services to an ever-changing illicit drugs market," stressed Michel Danet.

"The fight against illicit trafficking cannot be achieved in isolation. That is why we have developed a partnership with all other international bodies engaged in the fight against illicit drug trafficking, and especially with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)," Michel Danet confirmed.

"The WCO has produced a valuable report on drug seizures which is an important reminder of the continued importance of global anti-drug trafficking efforts," Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said.

"Customs officials and police play a complementary and vital role in combating international drug smuggling, which is why Interpol is pleased to offer its support to the WCO in its ongoing efforts to collect and share drug seizure information which will help governments to stop this illegal trade," he added.

For more information contact:
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