Joint Global Operation of Custom Administrations

Operation “Demeter IV” targeted illegal trafficking of waste.

As reported by Belgium-based World Customs Organization, in total 75 customs administrations participated in the joint global operation last year, which yielded over 326,133 tons and 54,782 pieces of different types of waste. Throughout the operation – conducted between 4 June and 8 July 2018 – customs officers shared intelligence and applied risk assessment, profiling and targeting techniques to identify and control high-risk consignments shipped on all routes and via all means of transport.

“The most frequently seized commodities included mineral slag (283,671.925 tons), plastics (9,816.018 tons), e-waste (245.277 tons and 14,826 pieces), waste rubber (1,032.970 tons), municipal waste (518.420 tons), clothes (5,371.804 tons), paper (25.705 tons), batteries (62.226 tons), and metal scraps (8,212.226 tons),” the organization described the results of the investigation. “A total of 214 seizures were reported, comprising 199 cases involving waste. The largest seizure was a shipment of smelting slag (approximately 180,000 tons) from Spain, intercepted by China Customs.” Operation “Demeter IV” – initiated by China Customs and coordinated by the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for the Asia/Pacific region (RILO A/P) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) – was supported by the Secretariat of the Basel Convention and its Regional Centre in Beijing (China), INTERPOL, EUROPOL, the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL), and UN Environment’s Asia and the Pacific Office.

Goal: a long-term mechanism for global cooperation

“Operation ‘Demeter IV’ once again demonstrates the commitment of the WCO and the international Customs community to tackle illegal trafficking and protect public health by enhancing cooperation and law enforcement,” the WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, was quoted.

The debriefing on the operation was held in November 2018 in Shanghai (China) and was attended by over 150 representatives from 53 WCO Members and 11 international organizations. “During this meeting, Mr. Ni Yuefeng, Minister of the General Administration of China Customs, referred to the operation as a major success in terms of international collaboration,” the World Customs Organization gave account. “He went on to say that ‘China Customs will continue to work with international organizations and other Member countries and regions to construct a prosperous, clean and beautiful world together’.” The representative of China Customs had proposed that Member Customs administrations “establish a long-term mechanism for global cooperation, aimed at monitoring transboundary movements of solid waste and combating related smuggling activities”.

As announced, the “Demeter” concept will be pursued, and plans are already being made for a similar operation in 2019.

Photo: World Customs Organization /Argentina Customs

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