Friday, July 13, 2012

Shipping Arms & Drugs
The top three states where ship owners based therein are allegedly involved in arms and narcotics trafficking are Germany, Greece and the United States. This is based on an exhaustive study conducted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Accordingly, more than 60% of ships involved in such cases are owned by companies based in the EU, NATO or other OECD states. The report also states that the methods being used by arms traffickers are the same ones earlier pioneered by drug traffickers in order to avoid detection. These reportedly include hiding the goods in sealed shipping containers that claim to carry legitimate items; sending the goods on foreign-owned ships engaged in legitimate trade; and using circuitous routes to make the shipments harder for surveillance operations to track. According to the report’s co-author Hugh Griffiths, “Containerization has revolutionized international trade, but it also provides ideal cover for traffickers. So many shipping containers pass through the world’s ports every day that only a fraction can be inspected. Ship owners and even custom officers often just have to take it on trust that what’s inside the container is what it says on the cargo documents.”  The report further adds that ship owners or even the captains may not be aware that they are actually carrying illicit cargoes, but in cases where they appear to have been directly involved in the trafficking attempt, the ships tend to be older and sailing under flags of convenience. 

By: Eduardo R. Meneses Jr. 

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