Thematic session 1: Increasing links between drug trafficking, corruption and other forms of organized crime, including trafficking in persons, trafficking in firearms, cybercrime and money-laundering and, in some cases, terrorism, including money-laundering in connection with the financing of terrorism, are observed;
Chair: Good morning. Good morning also to all those who are joining us online, I understand we have 700 participants altogether. So, there are great expectations to have a very informative, very interesting and interactive discussion today. I welcome you all to the first international intersessional meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at its 64th session. Before we start, I wish to invite the meeting to the provisional agenda which has been shared together with the invitation. Any questions? The agenda is adopted.
Secretariat: Good morning, Madam Chair, Executive Director, distinguished delegates. It’s indeed very nice to see you here in the room, and welcome to those connected online as well. I’m going to just remind you of the COVID-19 measures and then also the rules of engagement for those joining us online. So for those here: I would like to remind everybody attending in person, to please have one of the following: approval for vaccination, or a negative PCR test result not older than 48 hours, or an anti gene test results, not older than 24 hours, or a certificate of recovery from COVID-19 not older than 180 days, or a positive COVID-19 antibody test. Please also be reminded to not attend if you feel unwell, have symptoms such as fever, cough, loss of sense of smell, or smell and taste. Please keep physical distance and wear your FFP2 mask. You can only take it off when you are making an intervention. Kindly make yourself familiar with the COVID-19 guidelines for in person participants posted on the website. Regarding the rules of engagement for online participation: mute your phones when you’re not speaking and turn off the camera so that we have a more stable connection. If you want to take the floor, please indicate in the meeting chat. Once you have been given the floor, kindly unmute yourself and turn on the camera, and please use the chat if you have technical issues, I would also like to use this opportunity to express our appreciation to the delegation of the United States because we have been receiving extra budgetary resources to upload the camera equipment in this boardroom. Today is the first time today that we already use it. And that should also enhance the experience of our online participants. So thank you very much. With this, I hand over to you, Madam Chair.
Chair: Excellencies, we will proceed with our discussion. I would like to bring you back a bit to history – since 2016, thematic discussions have been a standing agenda item in the CND calendar. Following the adoption of the ministerial declaration, we also committed ourselves to accelerate the practical implementation of our joint commitments. Today’s discussion will focus on three challenges which are identified since 2009:
- a) Increasing links between drug trafficking, corruption and other forms of organized crime, including trafficking in persons, trafficking in firearms, cybercrime and money-laundering and, in some cases, terrorism, including money-laundering in connection with the financing of terrorism, are observed (19 October 2021);
- b) The value of confiscated proceeds of crime related to money-laundering arising from drug traffickingat the global level remains low (20 October 2021);
- c) The criminal misuse of information and communications technologies for illicit drug-related activities is increasing (21 October 2021)
The pandemic- posed special challenges will be introduced by a presentation from UNODC, then we will proceed with the panel discussion with experts nominated by regional groups, UN entities, regional and international organizations, and civil society experts nominated by the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs. We have great experts with us, so I would like to encourage you to have interactive discussion and to engage. As of past practice short, I will present a summary, which will be a nonnegotiable document that will be brought to the attention of the commission during the session in 2022.
Executive Director UNODC: Distinguished Chair, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it’s very nice to have you in the room, and to finally meet in person. It’s my pleasure to address the commission today at the opening of these important thematic discussions The Commission on Narcotic Drugs has a vital and unique responsibility within the UN system, addressing drug related challenges through shared responses. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and the topics being addressed this week, reflect the Commission’s commitment to living up to that responsibility. Your discussions offer the chance to draw insightful conclusions on very important topics, how drug trafficking feeds into other crimes, just as it feeds of them, how new technologies are being misused to expand drug related criminal activity, and how the proceeds of drug trafficking continue to evade confiscation worldwide. This is the right forum to address the trends that lie at the intersection of drugs and crime. And this is the right time to focus on those threats, the sophisticated criminal infrastructure that has developed around drug trafficking – Creating pockets of mutual interest between traffickers, terrorists, and other criminals. An Europol study this year revealed that about 40% of all credit groups in the European Union are engaged in more than one criminal activity. And that is just one region! Across the globe, drug traffickers are often using the infrastructures and routes used for other illicit flows, such as firearms. In some cases, they are exploiting victims of human trafficking, cultivation and smuggling of drugs. Technology is also being misused in support of illicit drug market as sales continue to grow. Corruption is opening doors for these criminal groups, facilitate their operations across borders, where money laundering allows them to reap the profits of the illicit drug trade, and sometimes reinvest them in other criminal activities. Alarmingly, there are reports of terrorist groups relying on illicit drug proceeds as a source of financing – terrorist groups are likely to take advantage of any new opportunities to exploit illicit narcotics, particularly as the situation in Afghanistan is developing. Afghanistan already accounted for 85% of the world’s opium production in 2020. In light of recent events, there’s an urgent need to prevent illicit flows and exploitative crimes to stop the country from becoming a haven for terrorists and to address expected spillover in neighboring countries. UNODC is hard at work developing a strategy to address these challenges and we will need the support of Member States in its implementation. Ladies and gentlemen, in recent years, discussions at the CND have reflected different positions and perspectives on various drugs-related issues. Nevertheless, consensus has been on one vital goal: protecting people and their health, including by keeping them safe from the criminals who profit from the illicit drug trade. This shared commitment was reaffirmed in the ministerial declaration, adopted by this commission in 2019, which guides these dramatic discussions. The declaration builds upon foundational commitments reflected in the three international drug control conventions when implemented together with the UN Convention Against Corruption and Organized crime. These instruments are a powerful framework against drug trafficking, and its linkages with relying on these frameworks, UNODC has been working with member states to establish effective models and capacities to confront drug trafficking, organized crime, corruption, and terrorism.
We are also providing operational assistance to stem illicit flows, including through our container control programme, which operates in over 70 countries and has supported the seizure of 115 pounds of cocaine just this year. The discussions, that are taking place today, will give us an opportunity to reflect on the big picture on how this commission can help curb the criminal structures, sustained of trafficking. The Commission can foster political momentum and provide strong normative frameworks and guidance to address the criminal economy that surrounds the illicit drug market, the CND´s sister commission, the CCPCJ, enjoys mandates that are directly relevant and will be holding its first ever thematic discussion next month. This represents a unique opportunity to explore joint and complimentary efforts in the substantive work of the Commission.
We also need a clear and accurate picture of the drug situation at the global level, and I call on all member states to share the latest data, to the extent possible, through the Annual Report questionnaire that has been adopted by this commission.
It is this timely and inclusive dialogue that will inform the midterm review of international drug policy commitments in 2020 for the fight against drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists is a fight that unites us. It’s a fight for the lives and safety of people everywhere. Thank you and I wish you fruitful discussion.
Chair: Thank you very much, before we will continue with the discussion, I would like to inform you that I’ve been approached by the group of friends of UNODC research, a group of member states, advocating for the critical importance of solid scientific evidence to inform normative policymaking and pragmatic programmatic work. It is particularly important when we look at the implementation of policy commitments to know what works and what has certain shortcomings, so with your permission I would like to invite to invite ambassador of Singapore to join to deliver a short statement on behalf of the group, Ambassador please.
Singapore: I am delivering the statement on behalf the group of friends of UNODC research co-chaired by Singapore and the European Union, comprising Australia, Chile, Colombia, the EU, France, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Sweden, Thailand, the United States of America, and Singapore. The world drug problem is complex and transnational in nature, monitoring the world drug situation requires the collection, analysis and dissemination of comparable and reliable data at the national, regional and international levels. This is why the CND requests each party submits such data, which goes into publications like the World Drug Report that provide an integrated picture. These flagship publications should be provided with sustainable and predictable funding. CND has systematically underscored the importance of designing drug policies and programs based on solid scientific evidence in the 2009 political declaration and plan of action, the 2014 joint ministerial statement, and the 2016 UNGASS outcome document, which represent the cornerstones for drug related policy commitments. The 2019 declaration specifically referred to promoting and improving the production, analysis, and sharing of quality and compatible data. The ARQ has been updated following a comprehensive, inclusive expert consultation process. The aim is to make the data collection system better suited to describing the dynamics of the drug problem and has been designed so that every member state can contribute, even if it’s only limited qualitative information. Member States, of course, require an adjustment phase of interagency coordination and will develop specific skills over time. We’ll develop a more precise and strategic picture on the evolution of the world drug situation. With this, we call on all member states to share the data to the extent possible and submit the ARQ as soon as possible if you have not done so already. The data collected to the ARQ allows the commission to better carry out its mandate. It’s our duty as parties to the international drug control conventions to regularly report to the best of our abilities through the ARQ submission. This key activity strengthens international cooperation. So, we appreciate the measures already taken by UNODC to facilitate the submission by member states -The modular approach, the online reporting platform and training in member states at all levels. We ask UNODC to continue supporting member states to submit ARQs, and member states that have not done so to appoint a national ARQ focal point as data provided by national authorities is essential. Yet, despite all the efforts of UNODC member states, there’s still some gaps in national data, meaning terms of coverage and timeliness. Recognizing that some member states have limited capacities, we call UNODC or the international organizations and donors to support these member states to improve coverage and quality of the National Drug Data Systems. The national experts that developed the new ARQ indicated how the international community can support them, including through new cost-effective data collection initiatives and developing new methodological guidance tools. In conclusion, the group of friends of UNODC research remain fully committed to providing comprehensive, timely, and high-quality information and invites all member states to fulfil your commitments to contribute to these efforts. Thank you very much.
Chair: Thank you. Few words now, very shortly, about how about our modus operandi for today’s discussion: panelists are kindly requested to limit their presentation to five minutes to make them as interesting as possible. After every presentation we will open the floor for questions and comments and we will collect them and the panelists will respond, there will be no list of speakers, but I will simply give the floor to those who would like to interact. After the meeting, the Secretary will post on the dedicated Commission’s website, the presentations of those panelists.
And now I would like to extend, extend a warm welcome to all those who joined us today on online as well, including our panelists. I’m looking forward to this fruitful and inter interactive discussions, and I strongly encourage all of you to share thoughts and make the most of the presence of so many experts. Without further ado, I will suggest that we proceed, we start with the panel discussions. I have the pleasure to invite our first UNODC colleague.
Angela Me, UNODC Research and Trend Analysis Branch: Thank you. So, what does the evidence tell us in relation to the topics that we are discussing today? I have to say that from the links between drugs and all other forms of crime, the evidence is not as strong as we have in our areas. We have looked three years ago, in the report, at the links between drugs and other forms of crime. And I have to say that beyond those dynamics of drug trafficking related to corruption and organized crime groups this is really not always evident globally. I mean we have anecdotal evidence in some countries, in some regions, but not globally. So, if we start with corruption, what we know is that more or less, corruption plays a role in facilitating manufacturing, cultivation and trafficking of drugs. We know that also about the prevalence of bribes, we know that the judiciary, and the police are among the sectors that are most active. So, what I wanted to leave you today is we have more questions than actually facts. I am inviting the commission to really work together to try to answer those questions so to collectively compile information that can help us as a community to understand the dynamics. For example, we know that corruption plays a role, but the higher the corruption is, lower is the level of corruption that facilitate the drug trafficking… criminal justice system corruption becomes essential in the drug trafficking. You see on my slide that the beginning is more of a law enforcement part is more on the prosecution side, on the court side… drug trafficking routes and modus operandi are all the drug traffickers decided based on corruption, for example, we know that some ports are chosen by drug trafficking because they know they have connection, and they know that they can approach, and they can use corruption to enter some of the ports. And as I said, production increase in relation to trafficking: We really have very little evidence.
As for terrorism, there’s a lot of discussion and talks about the links between drug trafficking and terrorism. But the evidence that we have is that groups use trafficking in different ways, drugs are really marginal to the functioning and operation of the groups…larger part of the revenue comes from other illicit markets. I know we have some groups that are recognized by the Security Council as terrorist groups and then countries identify different groups so I don’t go into the details here in saying what groups are involved. There are some groups, and among them terrorist groups, where drugs have been really fundamental to the operation but the evidence that we have is mainly for the Taliban and the FARC in Colombia. The rest (and not speaking about also the multitude of groups and subgroups are linked to al Qaeda allies, etc) particularly for example, in North America and South Africa and West Africa have been only marginally engaged in drug trafficking. These links are also very. I think we need to beyond thinking about these links and what we need to understand is: do terrorist activities depend on drug trafficking, or is conflict and insurgency driven by trafficking …and again, I look at the trend where we really have not enough information to say if this phenomenon is increasing or decreasing. The same is true for organized crime. Many are involved in drug trafficking – here you see the infographic that we did in 2017 in the water report from the Europol report and emphasize how 35% of all the organized crime groups are involved in drug trafficking… between 30 and 40 percent. We also know that these are poly-crimes. We will hear from European colleagues as well, these are poly-crime groups, involving different types of criminal activities. In some regions, I would say probably in Latin America, the share of organized crime groups involving drug trafficking may be bigger.
The key question we need to really emphasize is: are drugs a more prominent business for organized crime groups? How fundamental are drugs for these groups? How are crime groups replacing drugs? I think this last question is particularly important for the CND because we hear a lot of rhetoric about the international control protecting health… If we remove control then we remove organized crime, but actually, we have seen and we have seen during COVID how versatile these groups are.
I really appreciate the friends of UNODC research and I think is very inspiring to hear from ambassadors about data collection because so many countries really need to increase the summation of ARQ. I just wanted to show you where we are with this to really ask your support to keep this in the agenda of the commission, so that we really support the countries that are not yet able to compile the information and provided, and then really remind everyone that that is the promise that is included in the convention that all parties wish to submit an annual report to the secretariat. So, and with that I conclude and thank you very much.
Netherlands: Thank you for the organization and panelists. I could perhaps say a few words about the Netherlands, where we currently stand because and what has been depicted. The general picture is interesting, but how does it affect a particular country? This is something that I would like to share because the news from the Netherlands actually is not so good. This week Die Spiegel, the German magazine, had a cover with the Netherlands as a place where drugs are currently rampant, where criminality really takes over and this is something that, of course, has not gone unnoticed. Unfortunately, we are facing many problems at the same time where indeed a key element is drugs and organized crime. It is so multifaceted, it is so complex, and many aspects are linked up together. In the Netherlands, we’ve seen murders of witnesses and drug trials lawyers in the same trial killed, also a well-known journalist was recently killed. We have a record-breaking interception of cocaine, and other drugs in our ports. And we also see many more cases of corruption. So, the Dutch government has taken very serious measures, and we are following a broad offensive, as we call it the so-called undermining exercise to combat the drugs crime, that is undermining our rule of law, corrupts our economy. This offensive should prevent or avert that the Netherlands becomes even more bigger player in the drugs in Europe by eliminating gangs and confiscating their criminal proceeds. And of course, by preventing also vulnerable youth in urban areas, because they are the next being absorbed in those gangs. We have reserved a yearly extra half a billion euros to strengthen criminal investigations, and we have set up a multidisciplinary intervention team to assemble all the relevant criminal expertise but also fiscal and administrative information, to have the best effective infrastructure in place to combat this very serious phenomenon. It comprises 400 People from six, various disciplines: Law Enforcement, Customs, fiscal prosecution services, and it will be fully operational in 2023. The problem of course is international – more than 90% of the drugs that are imported or produced in the Netherlands are exported to other parts in Europe and in the World. So, if we do not combat it in the Netherlands properly ,90% of the problem will end up in many other countries around us, and that’s why we also feel this very sincere responsibility to tackle it, and we can only do so if we have international cooperation with all of you. We are seeking in this context, of course, to support UNODC. We have built strong cooperation, particularly with European, Caribbean and Latin American countries, but there are initiatives relating to our harbors and airports as well, because they are the ports of entry. We also aim to fight the so-called normalization of drug use and the way drugs use is perceived. We try to also prevent further drug trafficking, combating money laundering and putting up barriers, such as bank regulations and supervising, for example, small airfields, or gun licenses. This problem has many facets and that we need to work together. Lastly, I would like to say that we are also looking at ways to combat illicit cannabis cultivation by taking this cultivation in our own hands. We’re starting a pilot project to licence 10 growers to cultivate cannabis and have full supervision of the cultivation, but also the distribution. It’s a sincere attempt, limited in time, and it will be rated after four years. Thank you very much.
Chile: Chile is a proud member of the UNODC research group of friends, and we have been encouraging the replies to the questionnaires. In this regard, we hope that the meeting will help us to accelerate the implementation of our commitments to effectively address the world drug problem in line with the 2019 minister declaration and the 2016 outcome document. We are happy to say that in September of this year, the Office of the National Prosecution launched the 2021 Observatory of Drug Trafficking – related to research efforts, which includes data from 2020, and the first half of this year. The report shows that some trends from previous years have become substantive problems, and that the pandemic has intensified the presence of organized crime as Angela has pointed out. We are experiencing fast changes in the criminal phenomenon mainly linked to drug trafficking, including the rise of violence in neighborhoods and the devastating damages of broad consumption, especially in teenagers, girls, and women. The 2020 report showed a significant increase of locally produced marijuana with high THC concentration and a decrease in cocaine seizures. Although these facts are still valid, there is an expansion in the production and trade of hallucinogens which is very worrisome, Madam Chair. The 2020 report also reflected an increased use of violence and firearms, especially in neighborhoods. We’re facing more complex and powerful criminal organizations both of local and foreign origin, for example in 2020 and 2021, the police detected the presence of three of the most prominent Latin American drug cartels. Here, we also share the concerns of the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands. This is very worrisome. Another trend derived from the pandemic is instant messaging apps for drug delivery and maritime routes for drug trafficking. For this reason, we are working to join the UNODC WCEO container control programme, which will significantly reinforce the action capacity with our national agencies. In conclusion, Madam Chair, we are facing a growth in the cycle of organized crime in Chile as the report has stated, including the rise of new and more violent tactics, the development of local capacities for drug production, including synthetic drugs which is something that reports from UNODC have been addressing, and the use of American technologies to pass the capability of power authorities. We need to take action – this discussion will obviously help to better understand the links between drug trafficking and other crimes as this has been said and has been proven by our report sharing other countries experiences and good practices with our national agencies is the first significant step we can make today – the health of our children may depend on it. And finally, Chile would like to reiterate the call to all member states to answer the ARQ that is the basis of our work. Thank you.
Nigeria: Nigeria is a proud member of the research friend group and very much associated itself with the statement delivered on behalf of this group. Madam Chair, I would like to thank Angela Mae for our presentation, which is always very thought provoking and informative. I think we agree with the points that she made, that we should be focusing on finding out whether there are these groups have drugs trafficking as a fundamental basis of activities and whether all of them also rely on drugs and we also agreed that different regions have different experiences – for my county, where you have over 14 million people using drugs so… criminal groups are making stronger trafficking routes so we strongly believe that they are very clear links between drug trafficking and terrorism and just like Angela mentioned, there’s so many groups that are linked to AlQuaide that also have this in common. And when we look at in Nigeria, the security agencies always find all of these hard drugs in the possession of arrested criminal groups, and as we face increasing danger, not just by Boko Haram terrorist group, but by also bandits across Nigeria we also find this link between drug trafficking, and this act of terror insurgency. We agree with delegations calling to improve efforts with sharing and providing data to enable us to look at these issues and in particular to also support many developing countries to be able to collect and assess credible data that could fit into the queue, and also enable us to have a comprehensive and evidence based report and that was why Nigeria tabled the resolution lost during the 64th session where we tried to improve data collection on responses to harmful effects of pharmaceuticals and psychotropic substances or new psychoactive substances. We see that the organized criminal groups have continued to improve their operations because they are aided by drugs trafficking. Nigeria would like to see more states to continue to collect credible data. Thank you.
Director of the Prosecution and Legal Services from the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, from Nigeria: I thank you for this opportunity to make this presentation on the increasing links between drug trafficking and corruption and other forms of organized crime. This is something that has always been gauged. The primary reason is based on the nature of the criminal mind of the actors as well as the profit of financial motives of the actors… this is a well-organized criminal activity. So, the activity that will generate proceeds is given to such organized syndicates and the links are becoming increasing in new forms of sophistication. Now, this increase in sophistication is primarily influenced by certain factors, which is globalization, the ease in cross border movement, and the improvement in transportation systems, as well as developments in the level of technology, internet and social media, the use of the cyberspace. So, basically it is now a cyber war. The world has become a global village that carries in itself negative, and also positive factors. Now the dynamics of the relationship between various forms of organized crime, which consists of illicit traffic in drugs, trafficking in persons or modern-day slavery, illicit trafficking in firearms, illicit trafficking in precious metals, items extortion and kidnapping money laundering and all forms of serious crimes are being captured by Article Two of the United Nations Convention against transnational organized crime. Now, the nature and dynamics of it is such that smuggled migrants are usually used as carriers of drugs. In most cases, also the illicit trade is used to facilitate illicit production and there is also the abuse of narcotics and psychotropic substances as a multiplier in the areas of conflict, and for cognition of violent crimes, as already pointed out earlier, we have found this connection in Nigeria is in the northwest of the country where we have lots of banditry. On the nature and dynamics of things, we have also noticed that the cyberspace is now being used for purposes of drug trafficking. And also, there is a symbiotic relationship that exists between other forms of organized crimes and the illicit proceeds, as well as official corruption to facilitate the illicit business, criminal activities. We also have the issue of corrupt funds invested for the purpose of sponsorship of violence and insurgencies, especially in areas where there are political disagreements between the political actors. There is also the issue of laundering of illicit proceeds of crime. Now, the connection between different forms of organized criminal activities are well captured by the resolutions of the United Nations resolution and the United Nations Convention against transnational organized crime and the preamble captures the concern of the international community.
We signed an MOU with Gambia and we are working with other countries that will promote regional and international partnerships, as I said, the fundamental issue is to ensure that there is strong international and domestic partnerships in the world. We believe that at the end of the day, everybody in this fight against organised crime. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Chair: I thank you for your intervention that was a very long presentation, I would kindly ask once again panelists to condense their intervention and to focus maybe on best practices
Mehmet Fatih Ucar (Turkey) Director of Proceeds of Crime Division of the Counter-Narcotics Department of Turkish National Police: Thank you. The first narcotics unit in our country was established on June of 1937 and the Counter Narcotics unit became a separate department on June, 2015. You can see the divisions in our department on the slide. The process of establishment of the Proceeds of Narcotic Crimes Division in all provinces has been completed in 2018. It’s clear that solving the drug problem is a shared responsibility that requires international cooperation, our department strongly support supports efforts to supplant regional and global cooperation. Today there are more and more different types of drugs in the world than any other time in history. Humanity is faced with a very complex drug problem. Nowadays, there is no geography, that is not affected by drugs. This can be seen from the international reports published in the field of fighting drugs. Our country is not shown as one of the main production areas of any legal drugs, but it is the country with the largest amount of heroin seizures at the global level – compared to the size of the country – you can see the amount of drugs on the slide. Just I want to give a short info about one investigation which we had done in June of 2020. This is the biggest operation in the history of Turkey, in terms of confiscating proceeds of market. In the first phase of the operation, which aimed to confiscate the proceeds of crime, originating from the black plate (sic), and two suspects were arrested. Officers seized 18 tons of cocaine in the Netherlands, Peru, Brazil, France, Italy, Belgium and Ecuador. Over 30 tons, cannabis and five tons base morphine, in Spain and the Mediterranean, and nearly 200 kilograms of heroin in the Netherlands and Spain. Within the scope of the investigation, joint Working Groups were established with public prosecutors, Financial Crime Investigation Board, Tax Inspection board, and the customs experts. Up to now, and a half a million euros have been confiscated from 17 companies operating in areas such as gold, foreign exchange, tourism, constructions and shipping. I would like to express with pleasure that during the operation, we have cooperated with law enforcement units from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Serbia. Serbia, Brazil, and Spain. Although significant successes were achieved in the operation, unfortunately, we experienced some problems in terms of international cooperation which were necessary for investigation. During the investigation, 117 information requests were made within police cooperation from 29 countries – from these requests, eight requests were answered, and 37 requests were not until today. Among these requests, we haven’t been fully responded, even about the past criminal records of the suspects in those countries. As part of the mutual legal-aid systems, 12 requests were made from eight countries, but we have just received information from only one country in 2 years’ time. This situation reveals once again how essential to fast police response, cooperation is – delayed cooperation benefits only criminals. Thank you for your attention.
Chair: If there are no questions on the floor, let me then ask you about your experience with financial investigations, and if you perhaps share some information on how the financial investigations help identify links between drug trafficking and forms of organized crime.
Mehmet Fatih Ucar (Turkey): First we investigate the predicate offences. And we realize that this drug dealers had very large amounts of drugs between 1998 and 2012… for 20 years they did drug trafficking. When we get the process, their operations were shut down. In this in this operation, I can tell that the important thing is to confiscate the revenue. This way we can eliminate daily activities (…) organised crime is everywhere in the world, and the traffic of drugs is very important as it is at the center of organized crime. What is your experience with (…) there is a lot of collusion between economists, former economists, between politics and parliamentary?
Mehmet Fatih Ucar (Turkey): In this operation, we seized fake passports but not any government correspondence in this corporation. This fatal terrorist organization act together with the drug barons… we only saw this link.
Chair: Thank you. We are on seizure and confiscation you mentioned established of several companies. But if you look at the seizures, are there any objectives or proceeds of crime that would hint at drug trafficking. Do you see any patterns between the seizures and the modus operandi of the organised group networks?
Mehmet Fatih Ucar (Turkey): They had the big correspondence with the international groups also they had a correspondence with Latin America, Europe, and they did cooperate also with the North African criminal groups too.
Juan Manuel Núñez López is an advisor to the Directorate of DrugbPolicy and Related Activities of the Ministry of Justice and Law of Colombia: First of all, thank you all for this opportunity to discuss a very, very, very important topic, the relationship of illicit drugs and other forms of crime. As Angela Me said, I would say that we don’t have strong conclusions. We don’t have just facts, we have ideas, we have some hypotheses. I would like to begin wit, trying to give you some ideas from the Colombian experience. We have a main hypothesis: the coincidence in territory of the drug market with all incomes and crimes give us four variables. So, the first one is the potential competitive advantages of the territories: We see that there is a coincidence between the territories where illicit drugs occur, and other illicit goods can be developed… even manufacturing cultivation, etc. You can find another list of goods that could be developed, as we will see in the next slides. The second idea is the conditions of vulnerability of the territories. If you have this coincidence of conditions of vulnerability in human conditions, that will make this territory prone to the illicit economies to develop. The other thing is the criminal control. If you have territories, where there is a history of criminal control, they will facilitate the development of different criminal academies to expand the actions. We have this idea, there’s a huge debate around it, that competition among all criminal actors and even the state that is trying to fight against them, makes the relationship between the illicit drugs and the violent crimes even closer. So, one of the biggest ideas here is that we need to focus on iterative approaches, which means that we need to analyze, even deeper, the territories that are affected with these economies. We have analyses from UNODC on the illicit crops, and how they affected the Colombian territory – some territories are more likely to be affected (…) For example, the coincidence between the manufacturing and production of a cocaine and strategic environmental areas, and we’ve seen that the criminal groups begin to develop practices from the drug trafficking to, for example, species trafficking. This is legal exploitation of the environment. We have seen that 41% of the territories that have this potential of illegal exploitation of gold are affected by illicit crops. So, we have this convergence between the illicit crops and gold mining and the potential of illegal goldmining. This is telling us that criminal organization or organized crime in general is likely to develop his activities in these territories. We need to go further and go deeper into this territorial action. The concentration, production and manufacturing of illicit drugs with the international borders – we’ve seen that these are very strategic areas to develop different flows and routes that could give them control to other goods, for example gasoline, cement. If you see with a which great organization, improve the borders, those criminal organizations will control the migrants’ flows, the Firearms flows, chemical substances flows, etc. So it is very important to begin to analyze the territories. The territories that are most affected by illicit drugs have lower indicators in human development, and basic necessities, poverty, all that stuff. So, those factors, they make this territories dependency on illicit economies. So that’s very important to, to look at these conditions of vulnerability. Some actors that control the territories that would make these territories unstable, and instability could make it prone to develop violent crimes like homicide or extortion and etc.
So, when the criminals don´t have control of the territory, and are fighting for the control of the territory, you’ve seen the relationship between the expansion of the illicit economies and particularly drugs along with the violent crimes. Well, that’s criminal control in urban scenarios… We’ve seen that in five years, we had the same territories affected with a drug sale, and the territories that are controlled by organized groups… so the criminal control will make illicit economies establish in some places and internal fights contributing to the instability. In territories where the state makes a seizure of substances, we’ve seen from evidence that those territories are 7.7 times more likely to witness homicides. So, we’ve seen that state is an actor that sometimes may contributes to the unstable conditions in territories.
This pandemic contributed to deepening the interrelationship between drug markets and crimes, because the pandemic, and the measures to address it, have led to some of these factors that have been tested before to get worse. For example, in Latin America in general, we’ve seen that the pandemic had increased the conditions for the social and territorial events. Criminal control also increased because police forces capacities were diverted to control the pandemic. So, these things all contribute to the increased capacities of the criminals to control territories. We’ve seen that some of the criminal organizations adapted and developed in very agile ways to use for example technologies. We have seen these pose huge challenges. We have come to a better understanding during these studies and we tried to connect the dynamics of different economies and different clients, and tried to relate violent crimes with drug markets in order to understand what are the criminals doing for getting better or for making more profits in order to access those strategic flows that are crucial for these economies to work. We have come to understand that we need to increase the capacities, to exchange information among countries of good practices and aim to better understand the dynamics in border areas. This is a good practice we have been developing in our regions. I think one of the main experiences that we’ve learned from this is to focus on intelligence and criminal investigation and Financial Intelligence… To not to use of force in the affected territories because they could contribute to the violence there, but the intelligence and criminal investigations could direct the efforts of the state to the crucial, and more important actors, and the most relevant dynamics and the more relevant flows that crucial for the economy to function. So, we need to tackle the economics of the organizations and we need to identify which actors which flows and which dynamics are crucial, and are in the center. Thank you.
Dominican Republic: Appreciate the discussion. The increasing links between drug trafficking corruption, and other forms of organized crime, including trafficking in persons, trafficking in firearms, civil crime, and money laundering, and in some cases, terrorism need immediate action on the national and international level. We live in a global situation where this is not news. This is an international phenomenon. The demand for illicit drugs fuels the power of illicit groups. Drug trafficking is often accompanied by dramatic increase in violence and corruption. As said by Mrs. Angela Me, so far, we have more questions than facts, so we urge MS to scale up on the collection of data that will help us understand better these links and target them in a more effective way. It was very interesting to listen to the panelists from Nigeria, Turkey, and Colombia introducing new ideas that could we replicate by our governors. We look forward to the fruitful discussion. Thank you.
Switzerland: Thank you and thanks to all the presenters. I’m sure it is highlighted by some of the previous speakers: transnational organized crime, mafia style in crime, criminal organizations continue to present an active challenge for many states, such as Switzerland. Unfortunately, these organizations have rapidly adapted to the pandemic situation, have even benefited from it. This shows us these organizations involved in drug trafficking and other criminal activities continue to undermine the economies of our states, even if it’s difficult to know precisely how deep the infiltration is. Engaging in exchanges of best practices, I would like to mention that Switzerland has adopted a national strategy and metrics, called Conferring Organized Crime. This method includes a representative dimension, but also a preventive one, and the preventive work focuses on sensitizing key actors to the risk of infiltration by organized crime as the ambassador of the Netherlands and the distinguished panelists from Columbia previously said. The exchange of information is pretty paramount, and also the partnerships between police and other relevant actors, as well as public private partnerships are necessary. For example, with the banking sector, as highlighted by the distinguished panelists from Turkey is important to, so to speak, follow the money as it leaves footprints. Thank you Madam Chair.
European Union: Thank you Madam Chair and good morning everyone. I would actually like to take the opportunity to ask a question to the panelist from Colombia. I found his presentation very insightful. Even if it was a bit long, I think he’s really focused on the topic of the session. And in the beginning he echoed the words of Angela Me that in this field we have precious little evidence, and I found that interesting. It seems to be counter intuitive that an area we would have little hard evidence because it would seem obvious as previous speakers have said that there is a connection between trafficking and other forms of organized crime and corruption. My question to him: Obviously they’ve really given much thought to the question and developed theories would be why it is that in this field we have little hard evidence and data to go by? Thank you very much.
Colombia: I think we have evidence of the relationship, but we don’t have enough or precise evidence about how deep that is. Angela posed some important questions – how much do terrorist groups depend on one economy over the other? Which economies are more relevant to a group or to a territory? We are developing partnerships right now, also with the UNODC, to understand this better. In Colombia, the relationships are different in the north for example where you see it strong with gold and human trafficking and arms trafficking. A lot depends on internal disputes as well. So, we can´t draw a universal conclusion but have to look at the ways organized crime and interrelationships occur in each territory.
Chair: I would like to give the floor to an other Colombian expert.
Colombia: Thank you. These findings for Colombia coincide with our perception about these links between the traffic and production of drugs with other crimes, and the importance of data collection, as stated by the ambassador of Singapore, which supports the research of UNODC. These types of discussions are essential to highlight both the progress and good practices, as well as the challenge that we face. As I stated in the ministerial declaration of 2019, it is our responsibility to undertake the commitment to strengthen bilateral, regional, and international cooperation – the issue of cooperation is quite important for Colombia, where the complex nature of organized crime as a contemporary scourge composes a series of challenges that require a synergy of our efforts, when building effective and sustainable solutions. The COVID 19 pandemic has made an accentuation of many of these challenges, especially the adaptation and evaluation, in terms of new technology, creative operational improvement related to illicit drug trafficking, eruption of international markets of all kinds. Our national experience has shown us that this criminal complexity can only be approach on the basis of common and shared responsibility. The effectiveness of police and judicial cooperation at all levels is due to the close connection and communication between the experts who accompany us in addressing the world or problem. It is for this reason that Columbia has directed its efforts to strengthen cooperation mechanisms at this regional and international levels also showing good results in addressing the links between drug trafficking and other forms of crime. We want to especially highlight this original strategy between Colombia, Costa Rica and Salvador promoted by UNODC. In order to improve the interdiction of drug trafficking and chemical precursors, in Latin America and the Caribbean, the three countries have established inter institutional ties. In the same way, we are pleased to highlight the progress of the global container control programme, and its implementation in Colombia. The most recent report illustrated that in Latin America and the Caribbean, a total of 470 pieces of seizures of all types of illicit drugs, as well as contraband products have been uncovered. These cases represent almost half of all seizure reported worldwide. The report has shown us that despite the advances generated by intra and inter regional collaboration in dealing with drug trafficking, the market for substances is complex and evolving rapidly. Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Brazil: First of all, it’s important to notice that drug trafficking is not an isolated phenomenon. On the contrary, it is surrounded in a system by a series of other crimes, such as corruption, money laundering, trafficking of arms smuggling, among others, which are frequently intertwined and hard to dissociate from one another. It’s vital then that countries join forces on multidisciplinary approaches, as we heard many examples this morning, so that the countries may tackle simultaneously, the different aspects of the problem. Scientific and timely information is of utmost importance so countries shall make efforts to effectively provide information because that is the main source of our knowledge on the drug problem worldwide – we’re thankful for Singapore for highlighting the need for answering the ARQ. Furthermore, it’s also important to note that each reality is different. The weight of crime surrounding drug trafficking, and the links among those crimes have different characteristics in Brazil, for instance. For instance, we have strong evidence of prominent ties with money laundering and the smuggling of firearms and ammunition. We’re thankful for the panelists and for today’s discussions that reinforce the sense that we need evidence-based dialogues, not generic assessments. Most importantly, we need cooperation in tailor made actions to tackle the worldwide problem in each region. This is the reason why CND sessions are fundamental, not only to exchange information on drug trafficking and drug related crimes, but also to acquaint ourselves with best practices that have been used by other countries. Thank you.
Mexico: Let me express that we fully subscribe to the intervention of Singapore on behalf of the group of friends of UNODC. It is clear that in order to be able to monitor the world drug situation, we require the collection, analysis of comparable and reliable data at national, regional, and international levels. We thank Angela for an excellent presentation and for clearly presenting linkages between corruption, and other forms of crimes. We have heard through the participation of different panelists with examples of these linkages, so it is crystal clear that we need to strengthen international cooperation both to share best practices as well as to take appropriate and coordinated actions to counter all these criminal manifestations. Mexico has experienced these linkages, but I would like to highlight one huge impact. Mexico has witnessed an increasing level of violence and strengthening of the criminal groups. We have also witnessed this problem cannot be addressed without full international cooperation. Finally, we would also like to express our great satisfaction for witnessing the strong leadership at the UNODC and CND and we encourage to keep on strengthening the gender perspective in all programs. Thank you very much.
Leif Villadsen, Senior Programme Officer and Deputy Director for the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI): Thank you and greetings to everyone. As you probably are aware, UNICRI tackles cooperation and activities in the fields of crime prevention, criminal justice, and counterterrorism – all based on our research, and increase resources to support member states to combat the nexus between organized crime and terrorism. I think this is complex and dynamic. The links can be manifested in many different ways and are shown to have distinct characteristics in different regions. In extreme cases, and I think you only a few examples today, the nexus has a direct negative impact on security and development, contributing to the erosion of political, economic and social instability. When exploring this through the lens of drug trafficking, the relationship between organized crime and terrorism does not really change. On the contrary. The involvement of terrorist groups in the drug trade almost exclusively focuses on the angle of financing, whether that be through taxation of farmers, producers, traffickers. Eventually direct control on cultivation and production. In these instances, the activities are focused on low income and unstable environments where there is a lack of government control. The ties between terrorism with drug trafficking, as with terrorism and organized crime more generally have evolved since the early 2000s. In fact when we analyze the evolution, we can isolate notable developments and trends that continue to shape the nature of security threats – one is that the drug trade continues to provide a source of strategic financing to other activities. Groups may continue to benefit from drug trafficking and corruption and weak government control. There is also is a new trend of emerging for ease of a more localized crime. This in particular has been the case in Europe with drug dealing, amongst many petty crimes, identified as one of the most common sources of funding for military Islamists´ attacks, increasingly, throughout the past decade. The emerging case of criminals becoming involved in terrorism is a trend that has been identified by silica and economic analysis. The third trend is that drugs can lead to prison. So, it is a prison radicalization and recruitment constitute a sad trend that we have seen. We know that certain prisons have acted as radicalization hubs. Finally, some of the radicalized criminal actually make up a considerable percentage of known foreign fighters who travelled from Syria. In fact, studies suggest that a disproportionate number of these militants had links as such. So, the former affiliation of such individuals to criminal networks, enables the infiltration of illegal migrant roots. All these aspects, all these linkages, have been taken into account in a study on assessing the interplay between movements of people and the evolution of trade stemming from Jihadist terrorism in Europe. A report on the major findings collected through research, analysis and interviews will be presented in next week.
So apart from that, what are we doing to address linkages? Since 2016, UNICRI has been working with the Security Council. In 2017 we launched the initiative in cooperation with a Global Counterterrorism Forum, DCTF. We developed a list of good practices to address the nexus between transnational organised crime and terrorism to provide member states, and interested stakeholders with recommendations to assist in developing policies and strategies to counter the phenomenon, and to serve as a basis for international engagement and assistance. We developed a training and a policy toolkit as well which goes one step further in supporting practitioners and policymakers to put identified good practices into action. The policy toolkit has a dual function. The first one is to increase the learnings on the nexus, by providing definitions and examples of its manifestations in different areas and in different locations. And the second, which is probably of interest for you, is to provide action points to implement each of the good practices with as focus on legal considerations, resource abd information sharing, local engagement and capacity building of law enforcement. The policy toolkit training toolkit is now available in Arabic, English, French and Albanian, and has been used for our training activities and capacity building activities since 2019. I can also tell you that UN officers focus on the work in East Africa, North Africa, West Africa and UNICRI is integrating all the good practices into our programs and projects across our mandate. This includes on the ground practical technical tools and programs, related to sharing information, reinforcing border security, increasing safety and security of major events and vulnerable targets. We have trainings targeting the reintegration offenders, and empowering communities to build resilience against transnational organized crime and terrorism. At the same time, the unit has been doing new activities to increase our understanding and to effectively address these linkages. Let me thank my colleagues for the excellent cooperation in this field. Lastly, more through our research and capacity building initiatives on countering all forms of illicit financial flows, we contribute to provide up to date, technical advice on how to trace frequencies and recover assets linked to complex illegal activities, including corruption. So in conclusion, our research tells us clearly that the issue must be addressed cooperatively, and I think that was also mentioned several times, we need more information sharing and more cooperation at the national and regional levels to protect the rule of law, peace and security and development. Thank you.
David B. Caunter, Coordinator, Drugs Unit INTERPOL Criminal Networks Sub-Directorate: Thank you. I’m the head of the drugs unit at the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA. I’m going to talk a little bit about poly crime, how that relates to transnational criminal organizations. So, just as an overview: at Interpol we have 194 member countries. We have regional bureaus in South America, Central America, Africa, Asia, and we are headquartered in France but we also have representation at various international organizations around the world. At the drugs unit, we have some very unique tools and capabilities that we hope that our member nations utilize – we have the drug analyst file, which is a very robust database, it’s one of the oldest and largest databases here at Interpol, which allows members countries to share information securely through headquarters and out to the national central bureaus we also coordinate line edge operations which are global operations targeting airports, ports of entry borders and they’re limited in timeframe and scope. We’ve worked with the member nations to then get all that information to run it through our databases and provide feedback across a variety of different areas of crime. We also were actively involved in the UNODC-funded aircraft project looking at airport task forces in Africa, as well as, looking at cocaine flows from South America. One thing I do want to highlight is the database originally developed by the Czech Republic, it was given Interpol in 2019, and this looks at the forensic marks and links to drugs so either heroin, cocaine, or tablets – it looks at microscopic impressions that are pressed into the bricks from the molds, when the kilos are pressed in the source countries. It works very similar to a fingerprint identification system, and it provides member countries the ability to upload images and then get matching related to the drugs and we think this is critical when we look at the global nature of drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. Given the pandemic, it’s been a slow roll-out of the training but we’re really starting to develop. Remember, when you look at transnational criminal organizations, you are looking at poly-crime groups. You really have to look at them as international global companies, not unlike Coca Cola, Philip Morris or Apple. They want to expand into new markets, they’re profit driven, and they have very diversified holdings – they’re involved in all different types of criminality. I would also add, Afghan organisations, you could add an Italian organised crime, just to highlight some of these groups. The Mexican cartels are very strong. They’ve been really making a push into Europe recently specifically with methamphetamine trades. South American groups also been very strong. A lot of cocaine was seized last year from the European partners, African partners – that’s all profit that’s being generated for those South American cartels. And then, the Balkan cartels – They are very unique subset. They have cells all over the world. They’re actively involved in all areas of criminality: weapons trafficking, violent crime, drug trafficking, and also poly drug trafficking… so a variety of different disciplines. Drug trafficking is still the cornerstone of transnational organized crime, it’s still their number one source of profit. This slide highlights the global reach of these organisations, we can talk about different trends of what we’re seeing. But really, you could draw a line from every single country on this map to another country – by nature, poly transnational criminal organisations affect every single one of our member countries as well as the violence associated with it, the corruption, the instability. It’s a global problem. We do see as some of my colleagues have mentioned, when you have areas of ungoverned space or uncontrolled space, these criminal groups are allowed to flourish, and this is a problem that we need to work together collectively to address.
So one other thing I like to talk about are super facilitators. They are sort of at the apex of criminality. These are individuals or organisations that are able to touch all different aspects of criminality. So, they have contacts with cocaine traffickers, heroin traffickers, high level money brokers that allow them to move their money unmolested throughout the world. You also have connections to weapons brokers. And then, the transportation networks that allow the movement of goods. And also, terrorist organisations as well. This is an area that I think we as international community have to focus on. We have to look at these individuals that cross cut a variety of different criminal activities.
Aas we look to the way forward, we have to adhere to the rule of law, we have borders and we have very limited resources. Conversely, these organisations don’t have to adhere to the rule of law, have no borders and seemingly have vast unlimited resources. They have the best technology are able to get the best encrypted communications devices. So this presents a real challenge for the international community to combat that I think we have to take a proactive approach to transnational organised crime, we have to strengthen those international partnerships, but specifically we have to strengthen conspiracy forfeiture, and encrypted communication legislation across all member countries. These organisations understand what our limitations are. If they know a country cannot extradite to another country, they will move there, and set up their command and control. Same with money laundering, the will hop to countries that don’t have very strong money laundering laws. So, we have to work together to try and address some of these issues. I think we have to be creative and collaborative, and we have to find that commonality. Thank you.
Turkey: Regarding the nexus between organized crime and drug trafficking, and also terrorism: We believe that nexus in terrorism and trafficking is of utmost importance. We carefully follow the studies of UNICRI as a country suffering from the issue. Recent operations conducted in Turkey, the South in Turkey, large amounts of illegal drugs have been seized along with weapons and other materials. In this sense, I want to highlight that cannabis is still the most abused drug and a major concern in the world drug problem. We believe that an increase in the cannabis production will have a negative impact on combating financing organised crime and terrorism. Turkey which is a key country on the Balkan route locates major national resources to counter drugs and precursors trafficking. Turkish law enforcement authorities continue to seize a significant portion of illicit drug trafficking through our territory. Our experts made a very interesting presentation today by giving examples from recent transnational corporations, highlighting the scope of the network of criminal organisations. We fully support the strengthening of the regional cooperation in this field and I also reiterate our support to the success of decision today. Thank you very much.
Morocco: The issue of cooperation, both bilateral, regional, and international was touched upon as a crucial element in the fight against trafficking. Now, I have a query on this issue to the last panelists: To what extent the lack of cooperation on these three levels impact negatively the global fight against drug trafficking, and in this instance, the linkages between drug trafficking and transnational international crimes?
UNICRI: I think my intervention explained the four different trends that we saw. One of the reasons why we probably see a development of all of them is actually because agencies are working in cooperation. We try to strengthen, to facilitate the cooperation both at the national level, at the regional level hence we developed this policy toolkit that will address many of these issues in particular when it comes to the issue of lack of cooperation. We are very eager in facilitating cooperation because I fully agree with you, one of the main is the lack of cooperation as we have seen that in all in all our research, and so it is one of the main components of our training activities.
Interpol: I think my colleague is right that law enforcement, on the national level and also on the international level, do play a role. It’s hard to determine how the low level impact will affect the larger transnational crime links, because we have to get the data from the member countries. Interpol as you know is an international organisation, so we can only get information that’s provided by our member countries. So it’s critical that those member countries provide the data to us – anything related to seizures, to organisations, etc. so that we can help expand out that that investigation for them. We are really here to connect countries that wouldn’t necessarily be able to connect. Thank you,
Venezuela: Greetings. From the outset, we want to acknowledge that the situation we have only during the pandemic is getting more and more complicated. In my country, we are working as hard as possible to make a sustainable solution for all our citizens to prevent high levels of tensions in our country. During the first month of preclusion in the Venezuelan territory, one of the most important decisions taken by our government, in order to reduce the risks was to decrease the transit of vehicles, between estates and also to reduce work activities, only to the necessary sectors, pharmacy, food and security. Thanks to those actions, between March and June of 2020, transit of drugs were practically disabled, due to the lack of mobilization of people inside the country. (…) traffickers, trying to get it through Venezuelan territory from their neighboring states (…)And therefore, we look at the problem with a view of preventing financial gain to happen. We need to ensure that it does not affect the way of life for our people, especially that there is no easy solution presented to them, so they become victims of traffickers, eg. orced labour from drug producers or other forms of oppression for vulnerable people in particular in vulnerable areas. It is well known that Venezuela, due to his geographical position shares borders with one of the biggest countries in cocaine productions worldwide. We share a responsibility in preventing all those dangerous substances getting to international markets. Because they’re unilateral coercive measures in other states, our actions and imports face duplicate change in this regard. We want to acknowledge that despite the absence of any technical support from international institutions, Venezuela have achieved great results on preventing illegal substances getting to their destination. More than 4000 people have been arrested in relation to drug crime. In collaboration with Colombia, around 80 clandestine laboratories were destroyed; more than 20, unauthorized air trucks were destroyed as well as 40 aircrafts that had intentions on using Venezuelan airspace to transport drugs. The Bolivarian republic of Venezuela, recognize multilateral events and international cooperation, as one of the most important tools to fight against a larger problem. Always in full respect of the UN shared principles of shared responsibility, respect and self-determination. Thank you so much.
Europol: Thank you. I’m representing Europol which is an agency, supporting serious and organised crime investigations involving EU Member States and also other countries and of course we are really grateful that we have the possibility to participate in this event. The partners if you look at organised crime in the EU, we can see that it’s increasing at the moment. During the first nine months of this year, Europol has received 80% more organised crime related information as in 2020 in the same time period. cross border organised committee is increasing, different types of organised crime groups are affecting the member states inside and also outside. This means that EU member states have an increasing need for real time cooperation with the many non EU countries, Currently organised crime poses a high and multi diversity security risk to the EU member states, and it sets new requirements and higher requirements for information exchange and operational cooperation. This also sets higher requirements or Europol services. I will present the key characteristics and also threats then propose some ways forward based on the concrete investigation that we are currently supporting.
The best overview about the high risk of organized crime in the EU is obtained by looking at the organised crime threat assessment produced by Europol with the support of the member states, and investigations concerning the encrypted communication platforms. These platforms boast 150,000 users worldwide. And at this point I would like to thank colleagues in Belgium, who initiated this. Hundreds of millions of messages were decrypted by the authorities. They include text, voice, video messages and folders. These platforms were used worldwide. These investigations filled in the intelligence gaps, therefore they were important not only for the operational activities but also in respect of our procedures and threat assessment as well as developing EU policies. What are the key crime areas of high risk organised crime? At the moment, based on these three major investigations on encrypted platforms, the key crime areas are (1) drugs trafficking: 38% of organised crime groups are involved in drugs trafficking, especially cocaine trafficking (2) corruption: 60% of organised crime groups are involved in corruption and increasing violence, and actually the corruption is mainly affecting the low level, middle level, but also the highest level in the society. 80% of the organised crime groups are using legal business structures to facilitate their criminal activities and 68% are involved with the laundering activities (3) Firearms trafficking for sure is one of the integral part of the high risk activities.
Until now, approximately 10,000 arrests have been made, 1000s of spin off investigations have been initiated, hundreds of contract killings have been prevented, approximately 200 tons of different types of drugs have been seized, including 158 tons of cocaine, and the total value of proceeds of crime seized only in respect of cash and cryptocurrencies is more than 500 million euros. Additionally, various other types of assets, such as more than, 1000 weapons have been seized, and all this in less than one year time. Investigations on the integrated communication platforms have lifted the operational cooperation of the Member States and Europe to a completely new level. This is mainly the outcome of the arrangements that we build up to ensure real time information exchange and real time operational cooperation between the Member States but also with the affected non EU countries. What is the way forward in respect of law enforcement activities? Of course, prevention is key. A key objective is to ensure the implementation of the EU strategies, which have been recently established namely, the strategies on organized crime, drugs, micro smuggling and human trafficking. We also need include operational activities in the next policy cycle. It is crucial to ensure that the EU member states in have legal technical and financial capacities for operational cooperation and secure information exchange, joint processing of real time data on a common platform, machine learning tools for the processing of large datasets and common case management systems to ensure the real time, coordination and deconfliction of the member states´ cross border investigations. The use of an International Operation Task Forces has also shown to be efficient. At Europol approximately 50 investigators from different countries are focusing on the data from these encrypted communication platforms. And finally, Europol should have legal possibilities to efficiently cooperate with the countries, and private partners. Their core operating environment is changing in an increasing speed, and the authorities must be able to ensure the security of people. That’s why the cooperation is essential, and I would like to underline that, especially the real time live operation between enforcement authorities, and judicial order it is crucial. Thank you very much
VNGOC / Tariq Khosa, Director of Centre for Governance Research in Pakistan: I represented the Government of Pakistan as Head of Delegation to the CND in Vienna in 2010 as the Federal Secretary of Narcotics Control and was able to get a three-pronged Narcotics Control Policy approved from the Cabinet the same year with a focus on supply reduction, demand reduction and international cooperation. Working within the government, we strongly felt that without developing community resilience and making civil society as active partner, the state alone cannot combat the menace of illicit drug trade, corruption and associated organized crimes. After my retirement from government service, I have been associated with the UNODC as rule of law and criminal justice advisor for several years. That phase highlighted the significance of developing partnership with the civil society in combating transnational organized crime. Since 2019, we launched a civil society National Initiative against Organized Crime in Pakistan and have dealt with serious and organized crimes like drug trafficking, migrant smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, terror financing and cybercrimes. Recently, as part of the UNTOC Review, we are developing a coalition of civil society activists to be associated with review mechanism. So, the first lesson that we have drawn is for the society and state to forge an effective partnership in tackling the challenges of organized crimes. Talking specifically of drug trafficking, Pakistan as part of South Asia, finds itself in the middle of conflict zone where in Afghanistan, war and mayhem resulted in a complex situation related with illicit drug trade. At its peak, 9000 metric tons of opium was cultivated there in 2017 on 263,000 hectares of lawless region close to Pak-Afghan border. Roughly 87pc of world’s heroin got smuggled out of Afghanistan, making its way to the west and east through the neighboring states of Pakistan, Iran and Tajikistan. Pakistan finds itself caught between the two-way traffic on Afghan drug transit route: inward flow of precursor chemicals and outward flow of heroin and hashish. The silk road of drug trade is emerging as a major challenge in view of improved connectivity that has the potential nexus with criminality, through the infrastructure development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). An alarming picture has emerged in our regional and national context as number of drug users has increased exponentially in Pakistan, with more than 70pc heroin addicts. Another negative effect of illicit drug trade is the corruption seeping into those institutions that are responsible for drug interdiction at the border entry and exit points and dry ports within the country. There were credible reports of drug money siphoned off to feed into the terrorism activities that increased between 2003 to 2013 in Pakistan, resulting in enhanced suicide attacks and acts of terror. While the Afghan economy teeters on the brink of collapse, there are reports opium prices have skyrocketed in southern Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover on August 15. Drug smugglers are now paying $100 per kg of heroin. In Europe, it has a street value of over $50 a gramme. A Taliban spokesman recently told the world they did not want to see “any narcotics produced” – but added that international backing was needed to allow farmers to shift away from the illicit trade. Therefore, my message for the CND and the international community is this: in order to stop Afghan opium production that produced some 6,300 tons in year 2020 with the UN estimate of $2 billion worth of illicit trade, a strategy of constructive engagement is required to curb poppy cultivation after achieving a consensus based on established conventions and norms. Thirdly, the nexus of drug trafficking with corruption and money laundering was clearly established as we in Pakistan saw an upsurge in illicit financial flows through illegal practices of Hundi and Hawala during the period from 2005 to 2014. Under Counterterrorism National Action Plan launched in 2015 and to meet the requirements of FATF, efforts are being made to break nexus between illicit drug trade and illicit financial flows. Anti-Money Laundering regime is also being strengthened. Similarly, number of convictions in terror financing has substantially increased. Finally, I would like to draw attention to the Kyoto Declaration on Advancing Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law during the 14th UN Crime Congress held in February 2021, that stressed upon effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem, which requires concerted and sustained action at the national, regional and international levels. We all have a common and shared responsibility. Thank you.
Terrorist Prevention Branch of UNODC: We support member states to strengthen legal and criminal justice measures to prevent terrorism, and in doing so we believe that we have made the observations that lead us to the conclusion that addressing the linkages between terrorism and organised crime including drug trafficking should be a high priority for member states. Here, we also see these broad criminal justice mandates as a unique platform to address these interrelated linkages in a holistic and integrated manner. As part of our work on this issue, last year we led the drafting of a secretary general report on actions taken by Member States and UN entities to address the issues of linkages between terrorism and organised crime, which with operation with the UN Office of Counterterrorism, was presented to the Security Council, in August of last year. The report noted a number of trends related to the links between terrorism and organised crime and highlighted good practices, which have been adopted by a number of member states, which can serve as a useful guide for further action on this issue, as also alluded to by several speakers before me. The Secretary General Report, the states that range of linkages are most often opportunistic and in connection to the financing of terrorism with terrorist groups benefiting from a variety of illicit activities, including illicit trade goods, drugs and other contraband, but a few states also observed that criminal organisations in their countries are increasingly disinterested in cooperation with terrorist groups to avoid the additional scrutiny that comes with that cooperation, additional scrutiny from law enforcement, and others. We also had some member states who expressed difficulties or at least, lacking the capacities to confirm the existence of linkages in their countries. These conclusions match the observations of UNODC, namely that the linkages manifests differently across different regions and under different circumstances. The very nature of these linkages between organised crime and terrorist groups complicates the development of an effective response, but in the Secretary General’s report, many states highlighted some common themes of actions which they have adopted to better respond to these interlinked challenges. These responses include building interagency cooperation, both policy and operational levels, building capacity to counter the financing of terrorism, including through cooperation with the private sector, supporting informal and formal international cooperation, updating national legislation to effectively address these interrelated crimes, and conducting further research to be able to better target the interventions. UNODC are building on the outcomes and the findings of this report and are supporting member states to adopt many of these good practices I’ve just mentioned. We are also supporting interagency cooperation between the intelligence, law enforcement, and prosecution agencies on intelligence based investigations, including through regional cooperation centers to identify, intersect and investigate terrorist activities and linkages with the illicit movement of goods, contraband firearms, drugs and even persons. For example, we’re currently working to support the East African police chiefs, to build capacity to identify threats in the region, and to promote close cooperation across the region to address these issues in a coordinated way. We’re also supporting states to put in place strong counterterrorism financing measures and address illicit financial flows, bringing together policymakers, intelligence and criminal justice practitioners, the private sector and civil society, to identify vulnerable sectors and disrupt opportunistic linkages between organised crime and terrorism financing. We’re also building border security capacity on land, air and sea borders, to identify and seize illicit goods, which can support terrorist groups and detect and apprehend persons travelling across borders for terrorism and organised crime purposes. As part of these efforts. We’re working with the UN Office of Counterterrorism and other international partners to support member states to identify the challenge, the challenge of terrorism suspects travelling. We are doing this through the establishment of passenger information units that use passenger data through the (…) information database. We’re also working to support informal and formal international cooperation – a key element, given the transnational nature of these firms. And we’ve supported states to navigate the complex legal and procedural challenges to obtaining electronic evidence across borders, as you know internet service providers are often based overseas across many geographical and legal boundaries, and we have produced a number of resources including a practical guide, a service provider mapping and an electronic evidence hub. All of them being valuable tools to help investigators and prosecutors, seek evidence that they need in their investigation and prosecution or electronic evidence hub for example is a free access one stop shop, which includes relevant national legislation, case law and model forums and requests for seeking the evidence. Finally, we’re supporting member states in developing and revising national legislative and regulatory frameworks to tie with international legal frameworks to develop National Counterterrorism strategies and encourage all of society responses to this threat, for example, we’ve been working with Nigeria to update its National Counterterrorism legislation to take into account financing support and other preparatory acts that lead to terrorism cases and crimes, and in working with Southern African Development Community… We’re engaged in supporting member states in these areas in close cooperation with other relevant UN agencies, regional partners such as Interpol. We’ve been working closely with UNODC to create delivery and capacity building on this issue. And next month, we will begin delivering joint capacity building training courses to support MS to address the links between organised crime and terrorism. Thank you very much for allowing me to share our perspective, and our interventions, and our support the member states in this area.
European Union and its member states + the following countries align themselves with this statement, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Norway, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova: It is indeed upmost importance to keep joint focus on implementing all our international commitments. First and foremost, 2016 outcome document of the UN General Assembly Special Session, which the most comprehensive policy document in the EU and its member states, strive to achieve a multidisciplinary multi agency integrated approach to effectively address illicit drug supplied and drug related crime. In this respect, we would like to highlight the role of the EU agencies. Firstly Europol, as we heard earlier today, supports as member states in preventing and conducting serious international and organised crime and terrorism. Secondly, contributes to improving judicial cooperation in the fight against serious crime. Thirdly, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction is of fundamental importance, as it provides the EU and its member states with evidence-based overview of the European drug situation. It also provides policymakers with the data, and analysis they need in order to draw up informed drug laws and strategies. Madam Chair, in the EU, a large majority of criminal activities perpetrated by criminal networks involves drugs, organised property crime, various types of fraud, and exploiting people as a commodity. Some groups are specialised in particularly a criminal market. Others are increasingly poly criminal, using the profits of one criminal activity to finance their expansion into other crime areas around. 40% of the criminal networks, active in the EU, engage in more than one main criminal activity. Moreover, the organised crime landscape is characterized by a networked environment with organised criminal groups operating with each other, and the providers of services, such as document fraud from money motivated legal advice or encrypted communication or transportation. Response to these are crucial to dismantle the criminal infrastructures behind the various criminal activities. With this purpose in mind, the European Commission adopted in April of this year, the EU strategy to tackle organised crime. This strategy sets the priorities for the next five years. The illicit trafficking of drugs remains the largest criminal market in the European Union, with an estimated minimum retail value of 13 billion euros per year. It continues to be one of the most lucrative businesses for organised crime groups, more than 1/3 of the organised crime groups active in the EU are estimated to be involved in the production trafficking or distribution of drugs, violence, corruption, document fraud, and the use of new technology or common features of European drug markets, illicit trafficking of cocaine, heroin cannabis synthetic drugs and new psychoactive substances is a major threat to the EU, going to the levels of associated violence, the multibillion euro profits generated and the substantial harm caused by such violence has become an integral part of the criminal activities of EU drug trafficking organisations and crime networks involved in the global supply trafficking or distribution of illegal commodities, violent crime groups are well organised and mobile. They employ strict internal security procedures measures and tactics similar to military intelligence or law enforcement services.Corruption is a feature of a considerable number of criminal activities in the EU, corruption is a key threat to be addressed in the fight against serious and organised crime as 60% of the criminal groups reported in the EU Serious Organised Crime threat assessment, also engaged in corruption. There is concern about the possible links between the illicit trafficking of drugs and terrorism, both in Europe and globally. The EU security strategy highlights the need to tackle the nexus between terrorism and organised crime, it points to the way in which organised crime works through a variety of channels for instance by supplying weapons, financing terrorist activities through drugs distribution, and infiltrating financial markets. Finally the connection between drugs and trafficking of human beings are yet to be fully understood. Many of the rules, along which migrants are smuggled to the EU hide unknow, drug trafficking corridors. While there are no apparent structural sustained or widespread links between drug trafficking and migrant smuggling, it is clear that a number of links do exist. New information is needed to shed more light on these interactions. To conclude, Madam Chair. It is apparent that there are growing links between drug trafficking, corruption, and other forms of organised crime, including environmental and it is only by working together to strengthen our action and our cooperation, and to accelerate the implementation of our joint commitments, that we can reach our goals and effectively address the world class situation. Thank you very much.
Guatemala: Thank you to the organizers and participants of this important session. It is for obtaining more and better information that not only will feed our work as a commission, but also will allow us to see to have a better grasp of each country’s unique reality and possible similarities with others of its own region, and other regions. Allow me to formulate an open question, and it’s mostly for law enforcement: What can we do as states to work in a closer and more efficient manner with specialized entities? It’s an open question, to see how can we work in a better way, in a more horizontal way.
United States: Thank you to everyone, we also the shoutout for the assistance that we have provided – it’s always welcome to know when that kind of donation is recognised While the CND leads the international community in drug control expertise, it is necessary to ensure that experts have access to the full picture of organised crime, especially as criminals utilise an intricate network that builds and borrows from one type of crime to enable another and tackling these intricate networks requires enhanced communication and information sharing between experts at the national, regional and international levels. It also requires member states to examine and take tangible action to tackle the crimes that facilitate drug trafficking, such as money laundering, smuggling, murder, and the corruption of government officials. Criminals have easy access to a vast network of sources on the Internet and the dark web, which makes it easy to access consumers and sell illicit drugs. The United States welcomes the work of UNODC’s programme on countering the use of cyber assets in the online trafficking of synthetic drugs, and their precursors, as well as the INCB global rapid introduction of dangerous substances programmes in addressing the use of both the dark web, and clear platforms to market and sell drugs, and their precursors online.The international community possesses a strong network of experts, poised to respond to the challenges, arising from drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime and the United States avails itself of the opportunity to work with all member states, and the Commission to enhance collaboration and respond to all threats with agility and precision. During the interventions today, there has been considerable emphasis on responses to drug trafficking and associated organised crime, but there have been only a few suggestions that have re been related to prevention efforts. And in our view, prevention is equally important. This includes strengthening prevention measures such as those related to vetted units, and community policing, as mentioned by my dear colleague from Nigeria. And as part of those efforts, we should also focus on money laundering prevention and enhancing transparency through beneficial ownership disclosure. We also support approaches that are targeted, such as enhancing community policing in vulnerable communities to reduce gang influence and violence as Colombia noted, we too have observed that excessive use of force undermines confidence in our law enforcement and respect for the rule of law, and we have adopted policies to better train our law enforcement implementation of such prevention tools will make it harder for corrupt officials and bad actors to undermine the rule of law. Thank you.
Mexico: I would like to present some general comments of concern. When our actions to assess the increasing links between drug trafficking corruption and other forms of organised crime, the first observation that we can make is the high number of recommendations contained in the political documents of 2009, 2014 and 2016, addressing, in one way or another, the content of today’s democratic debate. We have counted more or less 61 commitments related to subjects being addressed today. Out of those commitments in our view, one has been clearly implemented in full, which is the virtual network of central authorities for mutual legal assistance and competent authorities for extradition request. On the other side, there is a commitment which not all of us have fully implemented that is that one contain paragraph for each of the political declaration of 2009, which states to establish 2019 as a target date for states to eliminate or reduce significantly and measurably money laundering related to illicit drugs. We’re already in 2021, and we can see that not only the international community wasn’t able to eliminate money laundering related to these drugs by 2019, but the situation hasn’t improved during these years, quite the contrary. We will need a series of revision in order to assess validity, and efficiency of those commitments related to money laundering. And whilst the vast majority of the commitments are considered to be ongoing and still valid, it is not impossible that in at least 16 Out of the remaining 59 commitments were basically repeating the need for states to to apply measures in order to face organised crime and corruption. Another area in which we will need to engage ourselves in developing streamlined and up to date commitments, is the links between drugs trafficking, corruption and other forms of organised crime. In this regard, we cannot forget the importance of engaging with civil society and offer alternative policies to work for change and uphold positive social norms and behaviors. So, our question to the panellists is, what do you recommend to do to be better prepared to address and counter these challenges? Thank you very much.
Chair: Unfortunately (…) is not connected at the moment but we will keep the questions related to money laundering and also related to cooperation of with special entities in mind when they return.
Interpol: So, to start with the question from the gentleman from Guatemala. I think from an Interpol perspective, we need to have greater connectivity between the specialized units in the countries that are focused on drug trafficking. We need to have those units working across all areas of criminality, working with other specialised units within their country – it’s quite a challenge. When we talk about enforcement, egos are always involved, you know, different priorities from different units but we really have to break down those silos, as we’ve talked about before. And when you look at crime that goes outside of your region, that’s where see the benefits of Interpol, the benefit of other international organisations. That’s where we can really help assist to illuminate those networks. You have to have good connectivity with the specialised units in your country, to the national central bureaus in your countries as well because that’s how the data is securely shared and I can’t stress that enough when we talk about high level criminal organisations, we want to make sure that data is shared securely and it’s not corrupted or infiltrated by these criminal organisations so that one recommendation is really pushed for that: for those specialised units to operate very closely with the national central bureaus in your respective countries, and share the data to Interpol headquarters so we can really expand the investigations
Canada: Thank you for leading us where we have this very important emetic discussions, this fall here in Vienna, and around the world. My question will be for our colleagues from Europol who mentioned the need or perhaps the lack of legal permissions that your opponent may or may not have to cooperate efficiently with third countries and private parties. So we know that investigation of certain types of crimes have to be in place. But I wonder if our distinguished panellists could expand and talk about what private parties, what legal permissions are required in Europe and elsewhere, that may or may not be in effect right now, so that we can draw the full benefit of the expertise like elsewhere in fighting drug trafficking, organised crime and other forms of crime? A number of panellists have, and comments before emphasized the need to involve civil society in developing policy and I would certainly add them in researching policy. We started this entire session off with a report from the research banch, saying there were a number of outstanding questions that affect the theme and that are relevant to the theme of this discussion, and it’s very obvious to me and to all my colleagues that academia, and other non-governmental actors may well be a first port of call as we search further knowledge on that on that challenge. I would be very grateful for Europol to tap into cooperation with third parties, especially outside the public sector. Thank you.
Chair: The representative of Europol is not online at the moment, so we will return to your question later.
Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission, CICAD: I thank UNODC for the opportunity to present on emerging drug trafficking trends in the Americas, from a multi-dimensional security perspective. Both in the Americas and globally, we note with great concern the strong link between illicit drug trafficking, corruption and others made up of highly resource groups that incorporate new illicit activities into their portfolios, often aided and abetted by corrupt officials. As the COVID 19 pandemic has demonstrated, criminal groups are adept at turning obstacles into criminal opportunities. When it comes to narco-trafficking, they have adopted trafficking routes means of transportation and other modus operandi to continue moving illicit drugs and generating huge amounts of profit. For example, with the reduction of commercial flights, drug traffickers have expanded the use of smaller narco-planes and clandestine landing strips which pose a serious threat to the environment as large areas of forests are destroyed to create the landing strips. They also continue to use drones submarines and semi-submersible vessels, all these vehicles can also be used for other organized crime offences, such as arms smuggling. Riverine drug trafficking has also increased. Another trend is the historically high level of production of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, including in countries where clandestine laboratories producing these substances had not previously been present. In this context, organised crime is continuously seeking ways to produce illicit drugs with local manufacturer of key chemical precursors, reducing dependence on chemical substances, brought in from other regions of the world. Additionally, more efficient production techniques, and the use of designer chemical precursors and unscheduled chemical substances are allowing criminal organisations to increase the potency of synthetic drugs and new psychoactive substances, as well as the amount of product to be sold in the so-called crypto markets and distributed to consumers via public and private postal services. Finally, traditional micro trafficking and related offences are rising in OAS member states, with increasing violent crime rates and public security concerns. The OAS hemispheric drugs strategy 2020 and its corresponding Hemispheric Plan of Action on Drugs 2021 to 2025, provide our member states with a framework for addressing the challenges. CICAD´s counter drug programming includes robust training of law enforcement and other technical assistance. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with international partners, such as UNODC to respond to the ever changing, drug problem. Thank you all for your attention and thank you Chair.
CHRISTOPHER BULKAN, VICE CHAIR, HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE : I wish to thank the Commission of Narcotic Drugs for inviting me to speak at today’s thematic discussion. In the 2019 Ministerial Declaration on the implementation of joint commitments to address and counter the world drug problem, Member States of the United Nations recognized increasing links between drug trafficking, corruption, terrorism, and other forms of organized crime as a persistent challenge hindering efforts to implement all States’ commitments; and committed to take various measures to respond to these challenges. Crucially, in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration, all member states acknowledged that responses not in conformity with applicable international human rights obligations pose a challenge to the implementation of joint commitments based on the principle of common and shared responsibility.
From our (Human Rights Committee’s) perspective, this acknowledgement is important since efforts to respond to the drug problem may have a direct impact on the exercise of human rights. In its work, the Human Rights Committee has frequently addressed the human rights dimensions of measures taken to address illicit drugs, terrorism, corruption and other forms of organized crimes, including trafficking in persons, reminding States of the need to adopt a rights-based approach in response. The Committee has also called for “a focus on appropriate health care, psychological support services and rehabilitation for drug users, including drug dependence treatment such as opioid substitution therapy and harm reduction programmes.” In its General Comment 36, the Human Rights Committee has explained that the ‘right to life is a right which should not be interpreted narrowly’ and that governments ‘should take appropriate measures to address the general conditions in society that may give rise to direct threats to life or prevent individuals from enjoying their right to life with dignity’, including ‘substance abuse’ and ‘the prevalence of life-threatening diseases, such as AIDS’. Jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee helped to shape various drug policy documents at national, regional and international levels, such as the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy. These guidelines provide a comprehensive set of international legal standards for placing human dignity and sustainable development at the center of State responses to the drug problem. While acknowledging the terrorist threat faced by many State parties, the Committee has recommended that States take all the necessary steps to ensure that counter-terrorism legislation is consistent with international standards, the principles of legality, certainty, predictability and proportionality, and is limited to crimes that would clearly qualify as acts of terrorism. The fight against corruption is an integral component of the 2030 Development Agenda. Nevertheless, when fighting corruption and other related crimes, careful attention must be paid to promoting and protecting human rights and the rule of law since they are an integral element to successful anti-corruption strategies. In this regard, the Committee has recommended States to promote good governance, transparency, and accountability by ensuring that all acts of corruption are investigated independently and impartially and that those responsible are brought to justice and ensure asset recovery, where appropriate. While the links between human rights and the fight against trafficking in persons are well established, the practice has shown that human rights are not always at the centre of responses to human trafficking. Consequently, the Committee has recommended States not only to conduct impartial and effective investigations, ensuring that traffickers are prosecuted and punished with appropriate penalties but also to ensure that victims of trafficking in persons are provided with appropriate protection and assistance and full reparation, including rehabilitation and adequate compensation. Finally, we cannot forget that the rule of law is critical for successfully addressing all these challenges. For example, there are persistent challenges and gaps in securing access to justice for all. Moreover, many public decision-making processes lack transparency and are non-participatory, hindering people’s ability to demand and secure accountability. Consequently, more must be done to ensure that the rule of law is respected and strengthened, especially in countries implementing measures to combat corruption, terrorism, human trafficking, and other organized crimes. Protecting and promoting human rights, including gender equality, is not an operational or strategic impediment. It is a requirement for successful addressing any societal problem, including drug trafficking, corruption and other forms of organized crimes. We must address these problems by ensuring that all efforts are human rights compliant, including non-discriminatory, and abide by the rule of law.
Russia: Good afternoon, everyone. The COVID 19 pandemic has slowed down the economy of the majority of states. However, the economic recession has not affected the international drug trafficking. We believe that in the midterm, the COVID-19 related crisis can lead to further increase in drug production trafficking and consumption, which ultimately strengthen the nexus between drug trafficking, and other forms of criminal activity, including drug related money laundering, as well as the use of modern information technologies for drug business purposes. The Russian Federation has always supported an integrated and balanced approach to addressing and countering the world drug problem, on the basis of the principle of common and shared responsibility in accordance with three UN drug control conventions, the 2009 political declaration and plan of action, the outcome document for the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem, and the 2019 ministerial declaration. Our country currently continues consolidation of international efforts in countering drug related money laundering. For example, Russia initiated, seeing resolution 58/6, strengthening the national calculation in preventing competent illicit financial flows linked to drug trafficking from the anti-money laundering perspective – the Russian side takes an active part in and support, including financially, the Paris pact initiative with its expert working group on illicit financial flows deriving from the trafficking of opiates, originating in Afghanistan. With our country’s support the international trading and methodological centre for financial monitoring (ITMCFM) organises training courses for employees of financial intelligence units from states of South Eastern Europe. Last September, the ITMCFM experts took part in the training course on methods to counter illicit financial flows deriving from drug trafficking.
The use of modern information and communication technologies for drug crimes poses a serious threat. The monitoring, conducted by our experts, shows that a huge part of drug market places function on technology platforms – the biggest criminal marketplace is Hydra, where narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances are sold virtually in all countries. It is registered in San Francisco, and is outside Russia’s jurisdiction. We believe it’s a crucial move to strengthen interstate cooperation. We also believe that reliable statistical dates plays a crucial role in Counter Narcotics Deference. In this regard, we welcome the new ARQ. By the way, the Russian Federation was one of the first countries to submit its national statistics to the new ARQ. In conclusion, I would like to note that despite the landscape becoming more complex, states should faithfully implement the three UN drug control conventions, as well as political obligations in the 2019 ministerial Declaration, which will help communities to more effectively convert the direct relations, transnational organised crime. Thank you very much,
Chair: Thank you for intervention, the floor is open for questions or comments. I don’t see any particular but, let me ask the vice chair of the Human Rights Committee. If you perhaps elaborate a bit more about the practices, which member states could implement to promote and protect human rights while addressing drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime?
Human Rights Committee: I was talking about the excessive use of force. In response, undermining respect of community, compliance and the rule of law. And, you know, it’s I think a similar philosophy that demands respect for human rights, even if we don’t see that in connection with the softer obligations, but certainly its critical in the response to drug trafficking and these interrelated crimes – for instance, not having disproportionate responses to crimes. In terms of punishments and penalties, where states imposed mandatory penalties and penalties that are disproportionate, often these lead to overcrowding in prisons and alienation of communities. This often falls more heavily on marginalised communities and vulnerable communities. And in this way, it enhances the problem rather than addresses or softens demand. So, one of the obvious human rights responses I would think is ensuring that penalties and responses by law enforcement are not excessive or disproportionate and are certainly not mandatory so the judges retain discretion so that punishments can fit the crime. Obviously, the death penalty should be reserved only for the most serious crimes. International law recognises that really is restricted to crimes that carry (…) so many drug trafficker offences where there’s no intent to kill, fall outside of this. Another dimension of human rights, I think, would have to do with the conditions of detention and punishment. What we’ve noticed in terms of States Parties responses, what happens is states often aren’t equipped so prisons become overcrowded and, the consequent problems with that has to do with exposing persons to be victims. And so, once again, responses that are disproportionate that don’t take these elements into account can undermine respect for laws and can further alienate communities, and undermine the measures to address the problem. So, ultimately, what states can do is in their responses is to keep human rights standards, international standards at the front and center.
EU: Just a quick follow up question on what the colleague from the Human Rights Committee has said because sometimes I think human rights or the rights of the accused are seen as an impediment to the effective enforcement of drug control laws and I think from the very last sentences here he was alluding to the fact that actually, it may be the opposite that really paying full attention to human rights, especially in the in the field of drug policy and drug law enforcement, actually, rather be helpful in countering this this problem. And so maybe if he if he wants to expand a little bit more on that aspect?
Human Rights Committee: Yes indeed. I think my comment about it being helpful and not hindering, it is directed to responses, not just to traffickers, but to the entire drug problems including here drug users. My point is that first of all, disproportionate responses might alienate communities. We heard earlier on panellists speaking about the importance of community policing measures that target the community as a whole might help for greater compliance, as opposed to responses that are only or extremely severe, that might completely alienate communities. The way the Committee sees that human rights centred responses as being crucial to helping is one to ensure that penalties are not disproportionate. Secondly, that if you if you ensure that there are due process guaranteed, then you might be able to elicit greater compliance. And then finally, aim more at prevention. And then again, ensuring that you’re not disproportionate, you’re not targeting, perhaps only certain kinds of groups, that are more visible, that are more vulnerable and get the bigger the bigger fish, so to speak.
Europol: It’s my pleasure to answer the question from the Distinguished Delegates from Canada. If I recall correctly, the question was concerned with the issue of how can you recall, cooperate and process data, which it receives from private parties. If you recall, it is not possible to receive private or data from private parties directly and process those data directly. However, as it comes with most of general rules, there are exceptions and there are two exceptions, I would like to highlight just very briefly. The first exception exemption concerns a case when Europol receives data from private parties, through a national unit, or through a unit from a competent authority of a member state, or through a competent authority from a country from third country where Europol has an operational agreement in place. The other option would be if we received data directly from private parties and Europol cannot identify which member state is concerned with that kind of data Europol can process the data only for the purpose of identifying for which member state or which unit in which competent authority, the data from the private party might be of use. So those are the only way to process data from a private party. Thank you.
Edgar Guerrero Centeno, Director General of the National Centre of Analysis, Mexico: Our main objective is ensuring a better network between countries sharing experiences, and also information, as some of my colleagues mentioned in the earlier presentations, and also share practices on how to fight against the fight against them. What we did two years ago in Mexico helped us to start a new perspective of analysis of the criminal phenomena, and also to design strategies to fight against the grain in a more effective way. I won’t go in depth in that analysis but just to tell you that the change of perspective, in the general purpose offices to fight against the phenomena, case by case in a more comprehensive way (…) Drugs is the fourth main criminal market in Mexico. It represents 11% of all the criminal investigations in the federal jurisdiction. On my slide you can see a map of the criminal drug market of Mexico. On this map, five kinds of drugs are seen: marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine fentanyl and heroin. I want to stress that, if we go drop by drug, we can see different patterns for example marijuana has more frequency in the north west of Mexico or north east of Mexico. If we analyse, Cocaine, because more frequency in the south or the Pacific coast in the south of Mexico, Heroin – Northwest. We’re also seeing a fight in the criminal market of drugs. As you can see in an analysis from 2017 to September 2021 a proportion of the seizures of marijuana in kilograms, followed by cocaine and then the methamphetamine. As you can see from 2017 to 2021, cocaine is increasing the quantity. So this is an exponential increasing of these kinds of drugs, at least in this activity or this issue that we were observing – the criminal drug market is changing its profile. As you can see at the end of 2018, in the month of October, November and December, we can locate a where a change in the profile of trafficking, and production happened from natural origin to the production of the drugs that come from several chemical products or precursors chemical substances. So, this is a new challenge for us because it’s not the same in the organisation of the criminals. Marijuana accounts for 20% of all the cases that we opened in the internal investigation, fentanyl has 24% cases that are linked to some other criminal market, then methamphetamine with 29% and cocaine with 37%. We saw between January 2020 and September 2021 that 20% of cases that are also selling in some other market. The criminal market that is mostly related to these is of firearms. The second one is illicit money or when we seize all all cash, and then these chemical substances prevaeil. The third one is organised crime – we don’t have enough evidence to prove it or to be part of a case. So I’m trying to stress the main criminal markets that are linked with the drug market what is specifically with marijuana.. And then, this is very important to mention chemical substances that includes precursors, or any chemical substance such as liquid fentanyl were 21% of the total cases – it opens a new line of investigation we are facing a new phenomena that is related to synthetic drugs. With cocaine, 37% of the cases is related to firearms 41% illicit money, chemical substances and organised crime. If we talk about methamphetamine, in 9% of these cases, we also find that firearms are trafficking related to the black market. I just want to stress this new perspective that we are taking in Mexico to understand the phenomena because I mentioned the links of this criminal drug market with some other criminal phenomena is important to understand and to fight against these phenomena that is having new profiles more intelligently. Thank you.
Brazil: I was just discussing with a colleague the role of money laundering in the whole cycle of crime. It seems to us that money laundering are kind of service providers. So in your experience, how do you see this link between all those funds as we can see in Brazil?
Mexico: Yes, we are noticing the same pattern I mean. I didn’t go in depth on this criminal market that we call illicit money, but it is a lot and we have certain evidence and we are trying to strengthen to be part of the cases.
UNODC Global Firearms Programme: I will address in particular the links between firearms trafficking, and sex trafficking. It is of course not the first time that the international community is addressing these links between drug trafficking and firearms and other forms of crime. What is interesting to highlight is the first focus is really on enhancing border control management strategies, capacities of border control and law enforcement and prosecution agencies to actually prevent and monitor the traffic inflows, including other traffic inflow so not only drug trafficking, but in particular appliance trafficking. An operational recommendation that is quite relevant here is to specifically address the links so it’s not just a matter of dealing on the one hand with preventing and countering drug trafficking but also, for example firearms trafficking, but really trying to understand what the linkages are and the representative from Mexico has been quite eloquent and clear in this regard – using integrated multidisciplinary approaches allow to better understand the linkages including therefore to support reliable data collection, research, intelligence and analysis sharing, etc. And the next recommendation is clearly linked to enhancing operational cooperation to prevent transnational criminal networks to engage in illicit drug related activities that include, of course, also firearms trafficking. I think it’s important to look at numbers, the UNODC Global homicide study in 2017 shows that slightly more than half of all the homicides were carried out with firearms, whereas only 1/5 involve chaff sharp objects. In the American region, firearms were involved in roughly three quarter of homicides in the year, which accounts for more than one quarter of the homicides worldwide. Even though only 13% of the global population lives in that region. This one may not be redundant, if we just recall a little bit, the systemic link that exists between violence and drug trafficking. Because firearms are not only the weapon of choice in homicides, but there is also a systemic link between armed violence and the drug trade. In some countries, firearms related violence is associated with drug trade in accounts. So, firearms are a tool to perpetrate power and are therefore also crucial as a facilitator, and as an enabler of various forms of crime, including drug trafficking, firearms are also used by drug players in organised criminal groups to solve territorial and contractual disputes and enforce disciplinary measures, or to violently progress into power vacuums after the fall of other cartels or other actors. They are also of course firearms used to undermine the rule of law, by pressuring state officials to not enforce the law for example by allowing illicit flows to cross borders, or by enforcing security forces to withdraw firearms violence in particular against civilians and officials. And if the death toll of law enforcement actions against countries is so high, then combating them becomes risks to become unpopular in society. So, there are many ways in which we can look at the linkages between firearms trafficking, llicit use of firearms and drug trafficking. Therefore, effectively combating the illicit trade and manufacturing of firearms can contribute to decreasing the operational capacities of drug cartels in organized criminal groups, and even more importantly, it can reduce the severe death tolls of civilians caught in the crossfire. I also want to add before that organised crime and drug trafficking does not always generate high homicide rates, for example online international drug trafficking, can also take place without much violence. For example, significant drug trafficking flows that occur in South-East Europe or in Western Europe do not seem to impact on the rates of firearms violence in these regions and yet the connections between firearms trafficking and illicit drug trade in these regions is also established. By contrast, as we said in the Americas, membership in drug cartels and gangs is largely responsible for the high homicide rates in that region – in particular where instability, and the balance of power between organised criminal groups exist. So, when we then look at the criminal context in which the firearms are seized and drug trafficking, we can see how this link is more apparent. On average, a larger share of firearms is seized in the context of drug trafficking in countries that also have high levels of drug trafficking proceeds so the same link emerges also between firearm seizures, and the general level of violence – in particular in Latin America and the Caribbean, the link between drug trafficking and firearms violence is well documented. The real magnitude of these links is however difficult to define. I think that additional research would be required to assess how often drugs assist in the context of firearms trafficking. I think making this inverse exercise would be relevant and interesting research question, including for future World Drug Reports. UNODC helps and supports countries based on the UNGASS outcome recommendations. In 2016, states have emphasized the need to prevent transnational organised crime networks involved in illicit drug related activities. So, with this approach that we have adopted in our programme, we aim to prevent and counter the illicit manufacturing trafficking but also the availability of firearms. Legislative frameworks and policies are one aspect to preventive measures. But then there are also the criminal justice responses and international cooperation, where I think the link between drug trafficking and firearms trafficking can be most explored. And this is precisely the field where we support countries in enhancing the capacities to detect, investigate and prosecute. One issue that we have found very important is specifically the fact that the criminal investigations that relate for example to drug trafficking cases do not often take full advantage of the wealth of evidence that can also come from a parallel or integrated investigation on the origins of the firearms that are seized. So by strengthening the capacity and the interconnectedness, we hope to help countries addressing these links. I will also give an excellent example that relate to how we promote the third operational recommendation: we have carried out an operation in the southern region in Africa with Interpol and an other one in Latin America last year. Huge amounts of drugs were seized in both operations along with explosives which were hinting to links to illegal mining and terrorism. We also had very high results in Brazil, for example, where more than 21 tons of cocaine was seized. An other recommendation of UNGASS is getting a better understanding on this nexus – we publish together with a research and trend analysis branch a study on firearms trafficking. This is a study that is not only looking, but it also contains a questionnaire that is sent every year to member states. I would like to add that in addition to this, our programme is also conducting specific issue papers dedicated to the linkages between drug trafficking and firearms trafficking. Thank you very much.
Chair: I don’t see an immediate questions so we may come back to you.
Senior Programme Coordinator from the Implementation Support Section: Case study of a seizure: Currently, we have with the inclusion of Uruguay and Chile, 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. And hopefully we will be included in early next year, Mexico as well. So that will be 21 the global programme altogether has 73 countries globally across the world. So it’s an extensive operation, and very successful. This is an operation that took place with the control unit in Ecuador, through the training that they received from the control programme.
Programme Coordinator Container Control Programme, from the regional office for Central America and the Caribbean in Panama:
VNGOC / Nukila Evanty , Executive Director of Women Working Group (WWG), Indonesia : There is a link between narcotics crime and human trafficking as experienced by Merry Utami (MU) a woman from Sukoharjo, Central Java, Indonesia, (https://deathpenaltyworldwide.org/merri-utami-migrant-domestic-worker-unwittingly-exploited-by-drug-traffickers-in-indonesia / ) She was dragged into a drug case in 2001, which started when she went to Taipei and Hong Kong to become a migrant worker to support her poor family. She met a member of a drug syndicate who claimed to be a resident Canada and she were manipulated by professional drug traffickers into bringing 1.1 kilograms of heroin at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Indonesia on October 31, 2001. In 2003 Merry was sentenced to death because she was convicted of illegally importing drugs into Indonesia, but she insists that she had no knowledge of her role, She is a victim of domestic violence and human trafficking. Merry’s appeal was rejected by the Tangerang High Court in Indonesia in 2002. In 2014, the Supreme Court refused to annul her death sentence. Then, The National Commission against Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) assessed that judges and law enforcement parties who handled the Merry Utami case did not understand the women’s case which contained elements of trafficking in persons. In this case, law enforcement does not recognize the link between human trafficking and drug syndicates. On the other hands, the American Center International Labor Solidarity (ACILS) in its Up Date Manual of Assistance for Victims of Trafficking in Persons in the Legal Process in Indonesia states that victims of trafficking in persons can include Migrant Workers, Domestic Helpers, Sex Workers, Bride Orders, Foreign Nationals marrying Indonesian women by ordering on women trafficking brokers, Child Labor, Cultural Exchanges and Women as Drug Couriers. Reminding that Trafficking in persons is the act of recruiting, transporting, harboring, sending, transferring or receiving a person by means of the threat of force, use of force, abduction, confinement, fraud, deception, abuse of power or a position of vulnerability, debt bondage or payment or benefit so as to obtain the consent of a person who has control over another person, whether carried out within a country or between countries for the purpose of exploitation or causing people to be exploited. A similar case was in 2010, Mary Jane (MJ) a Filipino woman who was offered a job as a housemaid in Kuala Lumpur by someone who really she did not know ( https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-28/legal-case-of-filipina-spared-from-indonesia-execution-continues/7368780 ). When she arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia the job was not available and MJ was asked to go to Yogyakarta , Indonesia instead with a new suitcase and US$500 in cash , then the Indonesian immigration officers at Yogyakarta Indonesia airport found in her suitcase 2.6 kilograms of heroin. Both MU and MJ experienced elements of transferring victims from their home to abroad and there were acts of controlling victims which can be included threats of violence, use of force, kidnapping, confinement, counterfeiting, fraud, abuse of power or a position of vulnerability, debt bondage or payment or benefits so as to obtain the consent of the person having control over the other person. The way the perpetrator controlled MJ was because the perpetrator was the one who gave her the job while the perpetrator of MU was her “boyfriend” , both of them were deceived by the perpetrator. Then there is the goal to cause people to be exploited. The perpetrators of human trafficking , both against MJ and MU, took advantage of their ignorance to get a profit by leaving a bag containing drugs and the two perpetrators used MJ and MU to make a profit by selling drugs in Indonesia. This action resulted in exploited MJ and MU facing the death penalty because they had to account for the illicit goods that did not belong to them. It needs to enhance the capacity of law enforcement and judiciary on the provision of international covenants on transnational organised crimes including narcotic, corruption and human trafficking and also it needs to be improved the law enforcement knowledge on the forms and modes of trafficking in persons, not only ensnaring the field actors but also reaching the main perpetrators and can also identify who is the victim of trafficking in persons. So that it does not happen that victims of trafficking in persons are punished for criminal acts that they did not commit or the main perpetrators continue to carry out the modes of trafficking in persons which continuously occurred.
VNGOC / Alex Chung, University College London, Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (UCL STEaPP): Your excellencies and distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to have the opportunity to share with you some observations on the emerging trends in global synthetic drug trafficking. Following UNODC’s presentation last year on the challenges arising from the diversion and trafficking of precursor chemicals, my talk explores the drug syndicates behind this phenomenon. East and Southeast Asia account for almost half of the methamphetamine seizures in the world and produces much of the final products seized across the Asia Pacific. In contrast, miniscule amounts of Asia-sourced precursor chemicals are seized in the Asia Pacific, while substantial amounts of these chemicals are seized in North America and Europe. This shows that Asian syndicates, who now specialize in circumventing controls, are the suppliers of precursor chemicals to other groups and regions. As a result, Mexican cartels have been acquiring precursor chemicals from Asian syndicates to mass produce methamphetamine in North America and Europe. As revealed from encrypted phones, Mexican chemists have been helping Dutch criminals to establish and upscale drug laboratories to produce high purity methamphetamine using new methods. While methamphetamine seizures have increased across Europe over the past decade, wastewater analysis has shown little increase in usage because the drugs are exported from Europe to Oceania. The demand and price are much higher there, as wastewater in Australia has shown a three-fold increase in consumption since 2016, while manufacture continues to decline. Until recently, methamphetamine in Oceania has mostly come from Southeast Asia. But this shift puts Europe-based groups in competition with Asian syndicates. The implications may go beyond Oceania, however. COVID-19 restriction measures may prompt Europe-based traffickers to target markets closer to home due to output overcapacity. Experience tells us that such a shift in trafficking strategy can drive up local demand and push down market prices. For instance, new users in the UK are now buying methamphetamine cheaply on the dark web. The pandemic may exacerbate this due to the higher risk of drug use by populations that are struggling financially. Further, when syndicates vie for control of the market, violence tends to escalate and risk of corruption rises. In closing, this talk highlighted some of the current and potential threats from synthetic drug trafficking. Inter-regional intelligence sharing and coordinated response are required to tackle them effectively. This includes tracking the inter-group dynamics of traffickers and the provenance of precursor chemicals. Thank you very much.
Chile: As my Ambassador mentioned this morning we were facing a very big problems with drug trafficking in Chile so we appreciate the access to the program.
Programme Coordinator Container Control Programme, from the regional office for Central America and the Caribbean: Thank you for your kind words and the opportunity to start the programme in Chile. We’re looking very much forward to in greater cooperation in the south. The programme will include Uruguay, Chile, as mentioned, Argentina and Paraguay. So by combining binding cooperation by combining experience by combining best standard and practice in that region we hope to reinforce everything that’s going on.
Canada: I really like to thank our presenter for the update on the work of the container control programme. Canada is extremely proud to support the container programme over the last several years and we just very recently renewed our support for another round to be active in Latin America, as well as other countries around the world. We think it’s a very important part of our balanced and comprehensive approach to the workbook. Given the theme of today’s discussions, I noted in your presentation a brief mention of the links between drug trafficking and corruption in some courts, and most of the data presented was about cocaine or drug seizures. Is there a lot of other links between drug trafficking and other forms of crime that you’ve observed, either from other types of contraband sees at the same time as drugs, or from other parts of investigations?
Programme Coordinator Container Control Programme, from the regional office for Central America and the Caribbean: There are links to trafficking routes on the firearms programme and the same are available to things in containers. We are just now getting to the bottom of it at the moment. We’ve seen in the UK, people who’ve been trafficked from England to from France have in fact been immigrants found in Guatemala recently. I’m not sure if that’s a storage issue but using the container as a method of transport is a links. Wherever there’s a transport availability, cargoes will be used to transfer drugs, firearms and contraband of any sort. There are 150 million containers in the world, and less than 2% are searched or revised to any great extent. We greatly appreciate the support of Canada especially in Latin America and the Caribbean. Thank you. Thank you.
Colombia: We are one of the most benefit countries on the results of this programme, we want to express our gratitude to those donor countries who are still providing financial support to the programme. We have a question regarding the issue presented by Interpol. There was talk about super facilitators or some kind of criminal actors who can make a lot of different crimes. And in the next presentation by Mexico, there were talks about the situation that they found in the country regarding the linkage between drug trafficking and firearms trafficking. Do you believe that through this programme it is possible to see these linkage and to see that there is some quad behaviour from the super facilitators?
Programme Coordinator Container Control Programme, from the regional office for Central America and the Caribbean: The role of the containing control programme is to reinforce the controls, and stop illegal trade. The investigations that go off the port will be carried out by other agencies.
VNGOC / Gustavo Orozco FundaciónObjetivo Cero, Colombia: Colombia today is undoubtedly better off than it was 20 years ago. The country has reduced its homicide rate, vigorously fought terrorism, dismantled cartels and improved most social welfare variables. Thanks to its success, Mexico and Central America today suffer from the tentacles of migrating crime.However, the Pacific Region in Colombia, where I come from, continues to face monumental challenges. Violence stemming from multiple illicit economies continues to be the eternal brake on its development.Thecontinued presence of guerrilla groups, their dissidences and multiple other expressions of organized crime demonstrate that the real driving force behind violence in the country persists: the profitability of drug trafficking and rampant impunity.The exponential increase of more than 100,000 hectares planted with coca since 2016 at the national level demonstrates that the phenomenon is far from receding. In this part of the country alone, cultivation has grown by 97.4% in 10 years.My department, Valle del Cauca, is a clear example of what this means. It is not about an apparently harmless bush. Drug trafficking has permeated daily life and seriously affects citizens: their life, their wellbeing and their belongings.Because of its geography, with accessto the sea and strategic mountain ranges, it is an epicenter of criminal organizations. Today Cali, the department’s capital, has the highest number of homicides in the country.What happened recently with the National Strike is a disturbing snapshot of what lies beneath simple statistics. It is a testament of the strength of criminals, of their flourishing business and of their capacity to affect society.Although some politicians deny the evidence with alarming partiality, crime, as many here know, mutates and adapts. During the strike, it did so to perfection. Colombia experienced an episode of social protest that turned into a criminal hotbed in this region. The road blockades that Cali suffered for more than 3 months more closely resemble a failed state.Organized crime and terrorism took advantage of general discontent and of our institutional lethargy to fatten their pockets and to strengthen themselves. The effect for the region is not a creation out of fantasy. May of 2021 was the month with the most homicides in 5 years in Cali. Unemployment rose to 24.3% and food prices skyrocketed. The price of a pound of potatoes, a staple of the local diet, increased by 525%.Efforts to counter drug trafficking must increasingly trigger those who hide under a veil of legality and who profit the most without consequences: through politics, through business, through whichever facade. They must also increasingly consider the additional dynamics that intertwine to improve the math. In our case this include vandalism, terrorism, corruption and apparantely legitimate strikes.Local governments, including Cali’s for example, must recognize their responsibility in dealing with the criminal phenomena that permeate their territories. Today, however, too many authorities wash their hands off by waving flags that excuse them of any responsibility. Anti-narcotics strategies must identify and target the strongest players in the drug trafficking chain. Discussions in Europe are increasingly limited to individual consumer rights. But for producing regions the hand of crime is not only a question of entertainment, freedom and rights.We pay with deaths. We pay with destruction, unemployment, hunger and fear. For that to change, the focus of efforts must also shed light intothe more impune corners. Those who hide in beaches in Miami, souks in Dubai or highrises in London but delight in the profits of crime and narcotics must also be a priority to curtail the effects their greed has on society.
UNODC Country office Colombia: …
VNGOC / Kelly Beker, Cannabis Education Guild (CEG): With the recent declaration of 2021 as the “International Year of Elimination of Child Labour,” and the outcomes of the Crime Congress to “implement new measures to address the economic dimension of crime,” practices of modern slavery in the cannabis sector fall under dual importance to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and both require attention as cannabis legalization continues to be adopted globally. Furthermore, when new trade agreements are executed, countries that already contribute to the problem, seen primarily at the chain of custody stage within the supply chain, along with having strong low-cost agricultural capabilities, will become leaders in the commodities of both cannabis and hemp. As different nations across the world reform their cannabis policies, trade of cannabis across international borders will become common practice. As countries like Canada begin trading legal cannabis, more space will be introduced between supply and demand, and the trends of present day consumer industries will be followed which inevitably presents risk for labour exploitation. Unlike most plant-based drugs, cultivated in a few countries, cannabis is grown in almost every country around the world, and continues to be, the most widely used drug worldwide. As global legalization continues, and trade agreements are revised, cannabis will be one of the most significant crops traded over the next decade. And with this, comes a timely opportunity to embed new policy into the foundation of a nacest industry – creating, a slavery-free industry. Versatile and controversial, the cannabis plant is gaining social acceptance on a global level, while operating in both illicit and legal markets. Cultivated in 151 countries. Legal now over 50 countries. There are over 25,000 products, across multiple sectors, that will be developed using the plant. The land required to grow cannabis will rival that of tobacco, requiring millions of acres, and hundreds of thousands in the workforce. The global industry is worth nearly $20 billion, projected to be worth over $90 billion in less than five years; this is why, today is the smallest the cannabis industry will ever be. Across Asia, Africa and Europe, governments have established task forces to evaluate cannabis legalization; with this not only comes agricultural requirements. It is the advancement of consumer packaged goods, driving global cannabis demand; manufacturing the plant to create everything from food, to fiber, to fuel, to cosmetics, cannabis will be marketed to satisfy every ailment and consumer consumption occasion, and that is why, today is the smallest the cannabis industry will ever be… Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery already exists in the legal and illicit trade of cannabis. Today, the multi-billion dollar illicit market relies heavily on human trafficking. In some regions, high risk drug trafficking zones like the Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent in Asia, and the Emerald Triangle in Northern California, now overlap with newly legal cannabis markets. As players from the illicit market continue to transition into the legal sector, cannabis risks the same bad practices of violence, forced labor and human trafficking. And though the cannabis supply chain is not yet as vast and murky as crops like coffe, cotton or cocoa, instances of modern slavery have already surfaced in the legal industry. In 2021 alone, there have been three reported cases where migrant workers have been exploited in facilities across North America, demonstrating how the legal sector is as suseptible to contribute to modern-slavery as the illicit market. Every commodity has become a race to the bottom; we need a system in place that provides mechanisms and measurement tools so the cannabis industry can be the benchmark for higher standards and human protection. Cannabis is underdeveloped, it can be the first illicit market to create a new way of working, one that seeks accountability and transparency by bridging the gap between government policies and commercial practice.
Turkey: We just want to highlight one thing, the year 2020 was declared as the year of eradication here in Turkey, and in this regard, Turkish national polls prepared a short video regarding two operations that were made last year, and actually you’re supposed to show it during the presentation of our expert in the morning of, but there was a technical problem so we will share it right now
Chair: Thank you, this brings us to the end of our session today