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Nearly 2,800 cases of drugs and wildlife seized in Operation Mekong Dragon

15:41 | 26/11/2022

VCN - Through Operation Mekong Dragon, Customs administrations of member countries and territories have seized 2,798 drug and wildlife violation cases.

Customs’ Operation Mekong Dragon initiative included in Vietnam-China joint statement Customs’ Operation Mekong Dragon initiative included in Vietnam-China joint statement
22 Customs administrations in Asia-Pacific continue to carry out Operation Mekong Dragon 22 Customs administrations in Asia-Pacific continue to carry out Operation Mekong Dragon
Over 1,000 drug-related violations handled in Operation Mekong Dragon Over 1,000 drug-related violations handled in Operation Mekong Dragon
Director of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department Nguyen Hung Anh delivers the opening speech.
Director of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department Nguyen Hung Anh delivers the opening speech.

Effective initiative

On November 23, 2022, Operation Mekong Dragon IV (OMD 4) conference took place in Da Nang, Vietnam, offline and online, with the participation of 36 offline participants and 15 online ones. The conference is held in two days.

The OMD has experienced four phases and achieved great success in terms of the number of participants and the number of seizures and created a certain buzz about coordination activities in the control of wildlife and drug trafficking, and transnational crime in the region.

For OMD IV (launched from April 15, 2022, to September 15, 2022), with the participation of 24 Customs administrations of member countries and territories and five other agencies and organizations, 1,362 cases were seized, including 1,267 drug cases, 17 precursor cases, and 78 wildlife and timber cases.

As a result, the total number of seizures in the four phases rose to 2,798 cases of drugs and wildlife.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Director of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department (Vietnam Customs) Nguyen Hung Anh said that the above figures are proof of the outstanding efforts of the members, the active coordination of the coordination group, and the practical support of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) regional office and the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia and the Pacific (RILO AP)

For Vietnam Customs, within the framework of participating in the campaign from 2018 to 2022, Vietnam Customs chaired and coordinated with other customs administrations to handle 874 cases of drug smuggling and trafficking, arresting 843 suspects; and handle 113 cases of smuggling and trafficking of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora on the CITES.

"As the number of seizures increases, the more challenges posed to law enforcement agencies of countries are increasing, especially for Customs administrations – the key force in the fight against smuggling and trafficking of drugs as well as wildlife on the front lines of the border. The reality shows that only working together can achieve the highest efficiency", said the Director of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department of the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

According to Director General Nguyen Hung Anh: During the official visit to China by General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong from October 30 to November 1, 2022, the Operation Mekong Dragon campaign was included in Vietnam-China Joint Statement on further promoting and deepening cooperation between the two sides. This shows the importance of the campaign in both bilateral and multilateral cooperation in controlling Vietnam.

The conference in Da Nang
The conference in Da Nang

Proposal to expand the scope of the campaign

The Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department (Vietnam Customs) representative said that this conference is not only to evaluate the achieved results but, more importantly, jointly identify orientations for continued cooperation in the future.

To ensure the effectiveness of cooperation activities after Operation Mekong Dragon IV, Vietnam Customs proposed:

First, consider expanding the scope of the campaign to other relevant regions (such as Africa, Europe, etc.) through an inter-regional cooperation mechanism with the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILOs) of the World Customs Organization to detect, prevent and control the whole transport process to assess the entire transnational smuggling ring.

Second, propose to reform the information sharing method about the campaign more effectively. Specifically, in addition to the current exchange mechanism, it is necessary to share and analyze information by groups of countries with the same key lines based on seizures to improve the efficiency of cooperation in the investigation and handling of violations.

"Vietnam Customs always affirms and strives to fulfil the commitments of the Government of Vietnam, is more proactive in cooperating with member Customs agencies and international organizations in the fight against smuggling, illegally transporting narcotics and wild animals and plants as well as other transnational crimes", emphasized Director of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department Nguyen Hung Anh.

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"Vietnam Customs always affirms and strives to fulfil the commitments of the Government of Vietnam, is more proactive in cooperating with member Customs administrations and international organizations in the fight against smuggling and trafficking of drug and wild animals and plants as well as other transnational crimes", said Director of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department Nguyen Hung Anh.

Operation Mekong Dragon, initiated by Vietnam Customs and China Customs, was launched in September 2018 and received great technical support from the UNODC, RILO AP and six customs administrations in the Mekong sub-region.

The campaign has experienced four phases with the participation of 24 customs administrations and five agencies, including the Australian Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Singapore Drug Center, Singapore National Parks Board and RILO AP and UNODC;

By Thai Binh/ Huyen Trang