90% of all cocaine trafficked via sea

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), in conjunction with Witherbys have released the sixth edition of the publication Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse On Board Ship: Guidelines for Owners and Masters on Preparation, Prevention, Protection and Response.

This edition has been fully updated to offer guidance on how to protect vessels and crews, and reduce the risk of drug trafficking occurring on board. It also provides advice on how to respond when faced with drug trafficking and drug abuse at sea. The guidelines also examine the various impacts and implications of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commercial shipping is one of the principle methods of transporting illegal drugs throughout the world – with ports and shipping companies in the frontline against the importation of these drugs.

ICS noted in a release: “Nearly 90% of all cocaine, 45% of all cannabis, and 30% of all amphetamine type stimulants seized globally during January 2017 to April 2020 were trafficked via sea, despite the best efforts of the shipping industries to combat this activity. Whether these activities are orchestrated by criminal or terrorist organisations, the methodologies employed are sophisticated and dynamic. Successful responses by the shipping industry and ports need to be equally sophisticated and require a comprehensive and strategic approach to security.”

The guidelines outline a range of specific measures that can be adopted.

The publication of this revised guide is also timely. It coincides with the final stages of the trial of eight crew members from the boxship MSC Gayane. They were found guilty of smuggling 20 tons of cocaine from Panama to the Port of Philadelphia in June 2019 in one of the biggest drugs busts in US history.

Andrew Cox

During the 1990s, Dr Andrew Cox was the editor of UK Coal Review and was a regular writer and commentator on the international coal trade and related infrastructure developments. Post-2000, he has been a freelance writer, CPD trainer and project consultant. He focuses on developments in the energy, chemicals, shipping and port sectors.
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