Compliance and Enforcement

13 October 2017

Security Programme

Under the Strategic Trade Controls Enforcement (STCE) Programme, a curriculum and modules for training purposes have been developed to assist in the evaluation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and work practices dealing with strategic goods, which are defined as weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and conventional weapons and related items involved in the development, production or use of such weapons and their delivery systems.

The STCE training curriculum is being adopted by many Customs administrations across the globe, and the WCO has organized the following training events since July 2016:

  • ten STCE national workshops, gathering 270 attendees from 12 different countries and the WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) Network;
  • eight train-the-trainer workshops, gathering a total of 155 experts from 53 different countries, whose ambition was to be accredited as STCE Expert Trainers.

The WCO has also maintained a prominent role in terms of advocacy with regard to the establishment of controls in relation to strategic trade: being present at the United Nations (UN) Security Council’s review of Resolution 1540, which was adopted in 2004 to address the risk of non-state actors acquiring WMD; and participating in many different regional and sub-regional events and workshops to support the implementation of Resolution 1540.

Under the stream of work related to small arms and light weapons (SALW), the WCO delivered technical assistance to Mexican Customs and to countries from the WCO Asia/Pacific region, in order to enhance their analytical capabilities in this area. It also conducted Operation Chimera, focusing on the detection of SALW as well as the physical movement of cash and bearer negotiable instruments. The operation resulted in the seizure of 716 weapons and parts thereof, along with 2,500 pieces of ammunition, as well as 11 million US dollars in cash and over 450 million US dollars in bearer negotiable instruments.

Under Programme Global Shield – an initiative to monitor the trade in 14 chemicals that could be diverted for use in the illegal manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the WCO organized an awareness-raising seminar for Customs administrations in the MENA region, and conducted industry outreach activities in Kenya and India.

Revenue Programme

Post-clearance audit (PCA)

A new tool, “How to Audit” Typology on post clearance audit (PCA) has been developed. It gathers technical skills currently being applied by auditors around the world, and already contains more than 20 practical cases. A review of the PCA guidelines is also being carried out by a newly established working group, which gathers more than 12 experts from various countries. Moreover, two PCA Technical and Operational Advisors Accreditation Workshops were conducted for French and English speakers respectively.

Operation Pegasus

Customs administrations, representing 92 countries, took part in Operation Pegasus, a three-week operation coordinated by the WCO, which focused on tackling the diversion of equipment and the products utilized in the manufacture and production of illicit cigarettes. A list of targeted goods and their respective HS codes as well as descriptors were prepared for all participants, including a list of producers located in their jurisdictions. To ensure that the products identified were legitimate and for lawful purposes, additional verification of the end-users or customers were required.

Free zones

A new activity aims at combating illicit trade in tobacco by focusing on monitoring the movement of cigarette containers through regional hubs or free zones. As part of the preparatory process, the WCO Secretariat has started a series of study visits: firstly, to assess the risks associated with free trade zones (FTZs); secondly, to gain a better understanding of the control mechanisms in place; and thirdly, to assess best practice. An operational plan will be drafted incorporating the lessons learned from the study visits, and will be shared with WCO Members in due course.

Drugs and Precursors Programme

Project AIRCOP

Launched in 2010 to build drug enforcement capabilities at international airports, Project AIRCOP has been responsible for the setting up of Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs) in 16 countries: Barbados; Benin; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Côte d’Ivoire; the Dominican Republic; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea Bissau; Jamaica; Mali; Niger; Nigeria; Panama; Senegal; and Togo. In addition, JAITFs will start functioning in four other countries during 2017: two in Africa (Ethiopia and Mozambique); and two in South America (El Salvador and Peru).

UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP)

The CCP is a joint initiative between the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the WCO. Port Control Units (PCUs) established under the CCP are, at present, fully operational at more than 60 ports in 44 countries, and funding for the integration of another 11 WCO Members into the CCP is now available. Given the success of the CCP, a separate joint programme on air cargo control has been established, with specialized units to target suspicious shipments in this transport segment already operational in Bangladesh, Georgia, Jordan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Within the scope of the Programme, since 1 July 2016, the WCO has implemented or planned 144 training activities on different types of techniques to enhance law enforcement agencies’ capacities in the maritime and air cargo domains.


Two operations targeting drug smuggling were organized between July 2016 and June 2017:

  • Operation Sports Bag, which focused on “rip-on/rip-off” drug smuggling (i.e. contaminating legitimate container shipments with drugs) between ports in Latin America, North America and Europe, was conducted from January to March 2017 as part of the CCP’s activities. The operation led to a number of large-scale seizures of cocaine;
  • Project SMART CAT 2, which targeted new psychoactive substances (NPS), was conducted from 1 November 2016 to 31 January 2017. Officials from 58 Customs administrations and eight RILOs participated in the operation, which was initiated by RILO Asia/Pacific and RILO Eastern & Central Europe. A detailed analysis on the NPS trafficking situation was published following the operation.

IPR, Health and Safety Programme

Extensive capacity building activities in this area have been conducted in 56 countries, taking the form of regional or national seminars and diagnostics. Two large-scale operations were coordinated by the WCO:

  • Operation ACIM (Action against Counterfeit and Illicit Medicines), which took place over an eight-day period in 16 African countries during September 2016, led to the interception of around 129 million units of substandard or fake products, 97.51% of which were related to pharmaceuticals;
  • Operation Action IPR A/P 2, a follow-up of a previous operation in 2015, gathered 26 countries from the Asia/Pacific region over 19 days in February 2017, with the largest number of cases involving foodstuff, followed by pharmaceuticals and spare parts.

In addition, the WCO also co-organized the annual global operation against illicit medicines, known as Pangea, along with INTERPOL and EUROPOL.

Environment Programme

INAMA Project

Launched in October 2014, the INAMA Project, undertaken in conjunction with the WCO Secretariat’s Capacity Building Directorate, aims to strengthen the enforcement capacity of targeted Customs administrations in Sub-Saharan Africa, while focusing on the illegal trade in wildlife, particularly endangered species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

During the 2016/2017 period, two training events were organized in November 2016:

  • one on CITES investigations aimed at enabling participants to improve their awareness, knowledge and competencies on the enforcement of the CITES, and, in particular, in conducting such investigations;
  • another on “advanced intelligence,” as a continuation of the training on basic intelligence that took place in 2015, aimed at helping participants to improve their capacity to collect, process and disseminate CITES-related intelligence.

In addition, training aimed at building the capacity of targeted Customs officers in planning and coordinating enforcement operations to fight the illegal wildlife trade were conducted in Namibia in May 2017 and in Gabon in June 2017.

As a follow up to this training, an enforcement operation codenamed “Save REP” was organized with the participation of nine countries from East and Southern Africa, including Nigeria and Ghana. A similar operation, gathering Customs administrations from West and Central Africa as well as Madagascar, is ongoing.

Furthermore, the WCO conducted diagnostic missions in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda, in order to assess the capacity of their Customs administrations to enforce the CITES. As a result of these missions, the administrations completed a work plan for the receipt of further support under the framework of the INAMA Project.

Timber Guide

Forensic analysis of timber can provide robust results, including the identification of the species, age and geographical provenance of a timber sample. The WCO participated in the development of the UNODC Best Practice Guide for Forensic Timber Identification, aimed at assisting frontline officers, crime scene investigators, law enforcement officials, scientists, prosecutors and the judiciary among others. The Guide covers the whole chain of events, providing information on best practices and procedures from the crime scene to the courtroom, with the aim of facilitating the employment of forensic science to the fullest extent possible, in order to identify timber and combat timber crime.

International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC)

Under the auspices of the ICCWC, which comprises the WCO, the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, the UNODC and the World Bank, support is provided to national enforcement agencies involved in the protection of wildlife.

Activities undertaken mainly revolved around the implementation of the Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit, which enables a comprehensive analysis of existing systems in the area of wildlife and forest protection to be conducted and technical assistance needs to be identified. Since 2016, Angola, the Bahamas, Colombia, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guyana, Kenya, Mexico and Mozambique have received technical assistance.

Moreover, the WCO also supports INTERPOL, under the ICCWC umbrella, with an ongoing multinational and transcontinental enforcement operation focused on clamping down on ivory and rhino horn smuggling. The operation started in November 2016 and is scheduled to be concluded by December 2017.

The WCO, as a member of the ICCWC, participated in drafting the high-level and internationally recognized “Hanoi Statement on Illegal Wildlife Trade,” which states, amongst other things, that the signatories “welcome the ongoing initiatives and programmes instituted by the WCO and its Members to strengthen controls in the global supply chain, and welcome the significant contributions made by the various Customs administrations in seizing illegally traded wildlife products.”

The Airport Wildlife Trafficking Assessment Tool

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the WCO developed the assessment tool, with support from the Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species Partnership funded by USAID. The objective of the tool is to help airports assess the security measures in place to counter the transport of illicit wildlife products. The tool was piloted at Maputo International Airport (Mozambique) in November 2016 and at Hanoi International Airport (Vietnam) in December 2016, and five additional assessments are planned for 2017 and 2018.

Electronic crime

During its last meeting, the WCO Electronic Crime Expert Group (ECEG) examined the DarkNet (an overlay network that can only be accessed with specific software, configurations or authorization, often using non-standard communication protocols and ports), big data analysis, social network analysis and risk management, as well as software and hardware for computer forensics.

Cultural objects

In continuation of its efforts to support the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2347 on the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict (adopted in March 2017) and the WCO Resolution on the role of Customs in preventing illicit trafficking of cultural objects (endorsed by the WCO Council in 2016), the WCO raised awareness on this issue among Customs administrations, promoted the use of the ARCHEO communication tool, and has started developing a training compendium for Customs officers.

To do so and as a first step, it organized a workshop in April 2017 for the North of Africa, Near and Middle East (MENA) region, with the aim of performing a gap analysis and developing recommendations on the needs of Customs in the region. The region was chosen as a priority because of the serious security situation, the scale of looting, the subsequent illicit trafficking of cultural objects, and possible linkages of these activities to terrorist financing. Based on the recommendations, the WCO organized a train-the-trainer event for MENA region experts in September 2017.

Besides developing further training modules, the WCO is also planning, in conjunction with INTERPOL and other partners, to organize a global enforcement operation that will target the smuggling of cultural objects.

WCO tools

The CEN suite

The CEN suite includes three stand-alone applications, namely the Customs Enforcement Network (CEN), the National CEN (nCEN) and the CEN communication platform (CENcomm), which are compatible and complimentary in nature – each supporting Customs with the digitalization of operational processes in the enforcement field.

During the 2016/2017 period, the nCEN was deployed in six new countries, namely Guinea, Haiti, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Ukraine and Vanuatu. Besides the new deployments, the following 19 countries use the nCEN to support their analytical and risk management processes: Angola; Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Fiji, Georgia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique; Namibia; Seychelles; Swaziland; Tanzania; Uganda; and Zimbabwe.

The use of CENcomm continues to expand rapidly, and was used to host 93 operations and projects during the 2016/2017 period, which demonstrates the continuing upward trend in activity in recent years.

Following the release of a new version of the CEN and the nCEN, the WCO began a modernization project for CENcomm, which is intended to improve the overall functionality and user experience, as well as interconnectivity and protection against the latest data security threats.

WCO Cargo Targeting System (CTS)

The CTS enables user countries to capture advance electronic cargo manifest information, and to perform risk assessment, profiling and targeting. To date, the WCO CTS’ maritime cargo capability has been deployed in two new countries, namely Kenya and Ukraine. The WCO CTS’ air cargo capability is still under development and is currently being piloted in New Zealand and Panama.

Customs Operational Practices for Enforcement and Seizures (COPES) Project

During the last two years, under the COPES Project, three-days training was delivered at 17 events, regional seminars and/or national workshops. Thus, 392 participants from 72 countries, representing Customs and other border officials, received training that was primarily aimed at promoting best practices concerning evidence collection and seizures in relation to investigative and prosecutorial functions. Furthermore, funding has been found to further roll out the COPES concept in the next three years, and will comprise six main activities:

  • the design of a new and more consistent five-day training exercise;
  • the accreditation of regional COPES experts;
  • the organization of awareness-raising regional seminars for senior management;
  • the organization of national workshops for frontline officers;
  • the creation of COPES e-learning modules;
  • the update of the COPES Compendium.

Global Trade Enforcement Network (GTEN)

The GTEN system, set up to enable administrations to exchange information and intelligence in order to combat commercial fraud, is now fully operational in 33 countries, and 4 RILOs are currently using it too.


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