Port authorities in Latin America and the Caribbean last year intercepted 51 tonnes of cocaine using a container-monitoring programme made available by the United Nations. Of the amount, a total of 22 tonnes was to have been shipped to Belgium, according to Bob Van den Berghe, regional coordinator of the UN programme.
The UN Official Document System and World Customs Union help national police and customs services in their fight against the trafficking of in drugs, weapons, protected flora and fauna and other commodities through the Container Control Program (CCP). The CCP provides expertise, risk analysis and training, in addition to helping to improve information exchange.
Van den Berghe said it was preferable for the drugs to be intercepted at the source than on arrival in Port Antwerp. “There is then no need to stock or destroy it, and the matter does not need to go before the courts,” he explained. International collaboration also allows the Belgian authorities to be aware of developments so that investigations can also be conducted in Belgium.
Thanks to the programme, twice as many substances bound for Belgium were intercepted in 2017.
Antwerp has a reputation as a major transit point due to its central position.
“Cocaine production continues to rise and we are also going to launch the programme in Colombia and Bolivia, so the figures will rise even more,” Van den Berghe disclosed.