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ICS UPDATES GUIDELINES ON COMBATTING ONBOARD DRUG TRAFFICKING

ICS UPDATES GUIDELINES ON COMBATTING ONBOARD DRUG TRAFFICKING

Friday, April 16, 2021 

According to the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), criminal gangs are increasingly exploiting merchant shipping to traffic large volumes of illicit drugs to markets worldwide, with nearly 90% of all cocaine, 45% of all cannabis, and 30% of all amphetamine type stimulants seized globally during January 2017 to April 2020 being trafficked via sea, despite the best efforts of the shipping industries to combat this activity.

The message from the latest ICS publication, Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse On Board Ship: Guidelines for Owners and Masters on Preparation, Prevention, Protection and Response, is that the whole industry shares a collective responsibility to assist in combatting this illegal traffic. .

ICS Secretary General Guy Platten said: “The global value of the drugs trade is estimated at US$26bn, and the problems from illicit drug trafficking continue to expand and diversify. Traffickers use shipping as a vector for their illicit cargoes as ships present opportunities for high volume movements from producing to consuming countries. Drug traffickers exploit society’s need to move goods and people across frontiers, and shipping is a key mode in that transport chain. We all share a collective responsibility to assist in combatting this illegal traffic and this latest publication ensures that shipowners and Masters are fully briefed on the best practices to combat this criminal trade.”

Published in conjunction with Witherbys, Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse On Board Ship is aimed at supporting the industry in meeting this collective responsibility. The sixth edition has been fully updated to offer guidance on how to protect the ship and the crew and reduce the risk of drug trafficking occurring on board. It provides advice on how to respond when faced with drug trafficking and drug abuse at sea. The new Guidelines also take into account the impact and implications of the Covid-19 pandemic which has had an ongoing effect on drug trafficking and drug abuse, due to the changing nature of the management of national borders and the alteration of established behaviours. The Guide explains where illicit cargo is likely to be hidden onboard (see illustration).

Since drug trafficking is an international criminal activity, improved collaboration between nations, as well as between ships and port facilities, is essential, says ICS. The latest edition of Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse On Board Ship also includes a section on the implications of cyber risks for drug trafficking.

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