Training to control illicit drug trafficking starts in Karachi

KARACHI: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Pakistan on Monday organized a two weeks theoretical training of the Karachi Airport “Air Cargo Profiling Unit” under its Global Container Programme, at Ramada Plaza Hotel Karachi.

The Global Container Control Program is a joint initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Customs Organization.

This initiative helps states to set in place an effective inter-agency law enforcement structure, to minimise the exploitation of containers for illicit drug trafficking and the smuggling of various illicit consignments such as chemical precursors, arms and ammunition, endangered species, and items relating to intellectual property rights. This Program was launched in 2005 with pilot projects in Ecuador, Pakistan, and Senegal. Karachi was among the first ports to establish a (maritime) Container Control Unit.

Jinnah International Karachi is the country’s biggest airport with the approximate passenger movement of 6 million per year. It also handles more than 50 % of the country’s air cargo with an average of 150 tons per year.

This highlights the significance of having an effective profiling unit at Karachi Airport; especially given its geopolitical importance in the region’s trade, and Pakistan’s contiguity to Afghanistan.

Given the encouraging results of the Container Control Programme in sea ports, UNODC is now in the phase of expanding the same concept for airports. Government of Pakistan had asked UNODC and WCO to help them establish the first pilot unit in Karachi.

The Karachi air cargo control unit will be mandated to profile cargos entering/exiting the airport in order to minimize the risk of air consignments being exploited for smuggle of illicit drugs, precursors, arms and ammunition and other sorts of illegitimate goods.

For this UNODC has organised a two week theoretical practical training of the Karachi Airport  “Air Cargo Profiling Unit” with the participation of representatives from Denmark, France, Japan, UK, international organizations UNODC, WCO, ICAO as well as officials from Pakistan Federal Board of Revenue, Anti-Narcotics Force and Civil Aviation Authorities.

The training is being conducted by Instructors from World Customs Organization and UK Border Police. In the long term UNODC plans to expand it to major airports of Pakistan including Lahore and Islamabad.

Addressing the audience at the launch Cesar Guedes, Country Representative said “it is an honour to see that Pakistan in launching yet another world pilot project in the field of drug control and border security”. He also stated – “I would like to highlight that the Global Container Control Programme has been one the most successful UNODC initiatives: starting in 2005 as described in 3 countries including Pakistan, and today operational in 28; while another 25 states are in the process of participating therein.”

Since its inception in 2005, UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme has been a worldwide success with tons and tons seizure of illicit drugs and other contrabands. Currently, it is being run in sea ports of 28 countries and another 25 countries are willing to join the initiative. Pakistan alone, has seized more than 50 tons of cannabis, 3 tons of heroin, and 30 tons of chemical precursors since 2008

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