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KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY MR AKIRA FUJINO

REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED NATIONS OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME (UNODC)

AT THE MARITIME DRUG LAW ENFORCEMENT SEMINAR (MADLES) 2006

TOKYO, 5-7 DECEMBER 2006

 

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

 

On behalf of the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, it is indeed an honour and pleasure for me to address the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Seminar (MADLES) 2006.  I would, first of all, like to thank the Japan Coast Guard for hosting this event in collaboration with UNODC. 

 

I would first like to reflect upon some salient developments and upon new challenges which law enforcement agencies now face. 

 

Developments:

I would like to speak briefly on what is expected internationally and regionally to enhance practical co-operation in combating drug trafficking by sea, and how that might be achieved, particularly in the light of the rapidly changing trafficking situation in Asia and the Pacific, by building common working mechanisms and standard operating procedures.

 

The single most important development that we note is that patterns of drug trafficking and abuse in this region are changing.

 

Among drugs of abuse, most recently substances referred to as amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) pose serious threats, particularly in this region.  Synthetic drugs have become a major concern of drug law enforcement agencies both in the region and worldwide.

 

We all have also observed recent changes in patterns of clandestine manufacture and trafficking routes of drugs, particularly amphetamine-type stimulants, and their precursors.  How did they happen?  As a result of tightened controls and law enforcement actions in, for instance, Thailand and more recently China and Myanmar, it appears that traffickers are being forced to relocate their clandestine ATS laboratories.  Often they move to countries not targeted before.  Such changes tell us that we require a further network of information and intelligence exchange and joint operations.

 

Illicit drug manufacture requires precursors and other chemicals, which are diverted from licit international trade or domestic distribution channels.  Traffickers always attempt to explore new routes and methods of diversion from licit channels into illicit traffic.  In addition to drugs of abuse, therefore, international law enforcement cooperation must include precursor chemicals. 

 

While the clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine may be regionalized, diversions and smuggling of the required precursors can take place world-wide and from, or through, any country.

 

Let us take a look at this development a bit closely.  In the last few years, traffickers attempted to target the Philippines as a new centre for the clandestine methamphetamine manufacture in the region.  The Philippines authorities effectively dismantled a large number of clandestine laboratories.

 

  Malaysia and Fiji cases 2004: In March 2004, as a result of a joint operation between China and Malaysia, a major methamphetamine laboratory was uncovered in Selangor, Malaysia.  Two months later, a mega methamphetamine lab was found, this time in Fiji. 

 

Indonesia cases 2005:  Let us examine another and more recent case.  In April last year, the second large-scale MDMA laboratory was dismantled near Jakarta, following the first one uncovered four years ago.  Then in November, a major clandestine laboratory was dismantled, which was making both methamphetamine and MDMA, and also trafficking in ketamine, a substance not yet under international control.  It was located about 75 km out of Jakarta.  Multinational investigations had led to the discovery of the laboratory.  The laboratory was located in a huge premise, was provided with hidden doors to the chemical operation rooms, and equipment set up was professionally done on a massive scale.  While the sources of the precursors, or of the ketamine seized, had not been identified, the processing equipment was made in Shanghai.  Subsequently, two further laboratories, also making both methamphetamine and MDMA, though smaller in scale, have been dismantled in northern Sumatra. 

 

Malaysia case, 2006:  The Malaysian Police seized a huge methamphetamine laboratory in July this year in the state of Kedah in northern Malaysia. The laboratory was significantly bigger and more sophisticated than the first major methamphetamine laboratory, dismantled in the state of Selangor two years ago.

 

Housed in a factory in an industrial zone, the spacious, well organized and equipped laboratory had, among others, many industrial-sized reactors of huge capacities, centralized cooling and heating equipment, analytical instruments, air filtration system, new and used tableting machines, etc, etc.  

 

More than 20 tons of precursor chemicals were seized.  Several of the chemicals were mislabelled. Initial investigations showed the methamphetamine had been synthesized from 1-phenyl-2-propanone (P2P), not the usual precursor used in this part of the world.  In addition, the P2P may have been manufactured in the laboratory from a non-controlled chemical, which had been brought into the country through false declaration, leading to suspicions that there were plans to manufacture MDMA also.

 

An unusual feature of the laboratory was that this illicit manufacture of methamphetamine was conducted openly, in full view of staff of adjoining factories less than 10 metres away.  There were no attempts to conceal the illicit activities. The suspects were also in possession of licences from various government authorities.

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These newly uncovered lab cases suggest smuggling by sea routes and point to the increased need for greater networking of law enforcement agencies for real time information and intelligence exchange. and for maritime drug law enforcement cooperation, both for the final products and for precursor chemicals.

 

Having an international framework to enable expeditious exchange of necessary information, therefore, constitutes the foundation of effective and practical cooperation.  Expeditious information and intelligence exchange is a pre-requisite for effective cooperation, which may lead to joint operations of different authorities from different countries.

 

Courses of action, framework and tools available:

          All these above points to the need for appropriate information and intelligence exchange.  Let me recapitulate some most salient features of such cooperation.

 

As, for instance, customs authorities will not be able to inspect every single cargo and should, therefore, conduct intelligence-driven investigations, the same applies to maritime law enforcement operations.  Relevant drug law enforcement and, for that matter, also regulatory, authorities must be able to share relevant information and intelligence with maritime law enforcement agencies.  Likewise, any findings of the maritime authorities should be fed back to the drug control agencies in order to track back the seizures, or otherwise interceptions, to the original sources to find the traffickers behind and to prevent them from using the same sources.

 

What has been essential is gnetworkingh for real time information exchange for both law enforcement and regulatory authorities within a Government, between Governments, and with competent international bodies.

 

At this juncture, it may be worthwhile to examine briefly the international regime applicable to maritime law enforcement cooperation.

 

Resolution:  In April 2003, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the United Nations adopted a resolution gEnhancing international cooperation in combating drug trafficking by seah.  The resolution encourages Member States to establish appropriate channels of communication for information exchange at the national level, as required by article 17 of the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

 

It also encourages each Member State to provide to UNODC information to maintain and disseminate a detailed directory of national contact points.  These would complement the role of the competent national authorities foreseen in the 1988 Convenrtion.  The resolution further urges Member States with particular expertise in maritime interdiction to provide assistance, training and equipment to interested States.

 

Under article 17 of the 1988 United Nations Convention, parties are required to gcooperate to the fullest extent possible to suppress illicit traffic by sea, in conformity with the international law of the seah.  This mandate is consistent with article 108 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, which requires States to gcooperate in the suppression of illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances engaged in by ships on the high seas contrary to international conventions.h 

 

Maritime trafficking involves two distinct modus operandi: traffic in containers and traffic inside vessels built and used to hide drugs.  In the former case, the owner, captain and crew of the vessel are generally not aware of the trafficking, while in the latter case they actively participate in it.

 

Countermeasures to these types of trafficking differ.  In the case of vessels carrying containers, most control measures must be taken in ports, since inspection of cargo and containers at sea is not generally feasible.  In the second case, the traffickers may avoid established ports, requiring law enforcement measure to be carried out at sea.  In that context, it might require counter-operations in maritime zones beyond the territorial sea.  In certain circumstances, resort to alternative law enforcement strategies, such as controlled delivery, may be warranted.

 

To assist countries in taking necessary actions, UNODC developed a gPractical guide for competent national authorities under article 17 of the 1988 Conventionh.  It also developed the gMaritime Drug Law Enforcement Training Guideh.  The Guide is a reference manual for countries seeking to train officers for more effective maritime drug law enforcement.  In particular, it provides them with a summary of the legal requirements for international cooperation concerning the boarding and searching of vessels, exercising freedom of navigation in accordance with international law.

 

At this juncture, I would like to provide you with a couple ofn examples of what the UNODC Regional Centre for h East Asia and the Pacific as been doing in this region, East Asia and the Pacific.  For instance, in response to the changing trafficking situation, we assisted Governments in this region to launch a collective ATS Initiative.  Eleven countries, those ASEAN members and China, decided on joint regional law enforcement operations.  This resulted in timely exchange of intelligence on major targeted transnational drug trafficking groups, their organizers and clandestine laboratories, and effective and decisive operations in cross-region investigations.   My office will make every effort to help ensure necessary links with maritime law enforcement agencies in such investigations.

 

Another example is that, through our project, a large number of Border Liaison Offices, or BLOs, have been established, through our cross-border cooperation project, with Border Liaison Officers working at high risk border zones in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.  BLOs are about building trust on both sides of the border, which did not readily exist before.  The BLO mechanism now ensures real-time information and intelligence exchange, and resulted in seizures of different kinds of illicit drugs, arrests of traffickers and some top level criminals, and the investigation of over 500 cases.   That is impressive.  BLOs have become a model to other regions. 

 

We are now considering to extend such a mechanism in the development of seaports cooperation in East Asia and the Pacific.  The main aim is to create a sustainable enforcement structure at high risk ports in East Asia and the Pacific by establishing or strengthening port liaison structures to ensure regular operational cooperation.

 

The question is how to secure, in this region, practical working mechanisms and standard operating procedures among different types of authorities, on the basis of actual trafficking situations uncovered.  I, therefore, look forward to hearing from you on your findings from the investigations so far conducted.  That will tell us more clearly what is still needed.

 

Concluding observations:

In closing, I would like to note that UNODC has been focusing, and will continue to focus, on further establishing necessary networks for information exchange.   We believe that the key to success in each of the areas I covered today is the real time information sharing, by sending and responding to, for instance, inquiries and alerts.

 

UNODC is ready to offer assistance and facilitate recipient and donor country coordination to address drugs and crime issues. Given the extensive geographical and diverse political and cultural nature of the region, we will extend country and regional mechanisms and frameworks, such as the Plan of Action developed under ACCORD (ASEAN and China Cooperative Operations in Response to Dangerous Drug), the six Greater Mekong Sub-region countries Memorandum of Understanding, and the Border Liaison Offices mechanism.   UNODC will use its comparative advantages of being able to reach out to different authorities of different countries in assisting you with necessary information exchange mechanisms.

 

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, I wish this meeting every success and look forward to the active deliberations and proposals for further action, collective or otherwise.

 

I thank you for your kind attention.