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8.5 metric tons of bomb-making materials seized by East African Customs during WCO border Operation

From 3 to 16 March 2021, the World Customs Organization (WCO) conducted a border Operation in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in the context of a regional WCO/Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) joint project for the implementation of WCO Programme Global Shield (PGS) by East African Customs and Revenue Authorities. The final results were presented during a virtual operational debriefing meeting held on 5 May 2021.

A total of 8.5 metric tons of chemical precursors, as well as 1 metric tons of other toxic chemicals and dangerous goods were seized at major entry and border-crossing points during the two-week Operation, along with 6 kg of heroine, 6.5 kg of cocaine and 1 metric ton of cannabis. In addition, and for analysis purposes, more than 1 000 metric tons of licit precursor chemical shipments were checked and recorded.

“The success of the Operation clearly highlights the benefit for East African Customs administrations of including security measures as a priority in their strategy, and the need for a coordinated approach to control and facilitation in the region”, said WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya. “The Secretariat appreciates Members’ support for the new PGS GLOBAL initiative and invites other government agencies to join hands in protecting borders from dangerous substances”, Dr. Mikuriya added.

The PGS is a multilateral WCO initiative aimed at building capacity among Customs and other law enforcement frontline officers to secure the supply chain by detecting, and seizing precursor chemicals as well as additional materials used by terrorists to manufacture Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

Tackling terrorist threats and securing borders require both multi-agency and multi-stakeholder approaches. Consequently, the Operation included Customs, police and other border law enforcement agencies, and was conducted with the support of INTERPOL. The setting up of joint Customs/Police control units at major border-crossing points, and the use of smart communication channels, contributed to the success of the Operation.

Prior to the Operation, the WCO/JICA joint project organized a regional PGS Train-the-Trainer workshop as well as multiple national PGS trainings for Customs and other law enforcement agencies, including training on detection tools and methods, together with communication strategies and information exchange. Relevant detection kits and equipment were procured and provided to all participating countries in advance of the Operation.

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