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          SEA SECURITY. Delegates attend the 4th Asean Seaport Interdiction Task Force meeting in Hà Nội on Monday (Sept. 9, 2019). Asean member-countries promised to boost cooperation to combat drug trafficking at sea. (Photo courtesy of cand.com.vn)

          HÀ NỘI -- Measures to promote joint investigations in preventing drug trafficking along sea routes in Southeast Asia were discussed at a workshop in Hà Nội on Monday.

          Hosted by the Ministry of Public Security, the 4th Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Seaport Interdiction Task Force meeting saw the participation of 60 delegates from nine Asean member-countries, the Asean Secretariat and China – the dialogue country of the group.

          Attendees agreed that the cooperation mechanism of the Asean working group on prevention and control of drug trafficking by sea is an important framework of the region, providing a venue for sharing information and experience and enhancing cooperation among regional countries in combating drug trafficking at sea.

          They stressed the need to further strengthen coordination among Asean members in preventing drug crimes and drug trafficking at sea.

          The member countries agreed that they would exchange information via Whatsapp and a hotline to deliver timely responses, especially regarding cross-border operations.

          Lt. Gen. Phạm Văn Các, Director of the Investigation Police Department of Drug-Related Crimes (C47) under the Vietnamese ministry, said crimes related to trafficking and illegal transportation of narcotics at sea, especially on international sea routes, have increased.

          Data from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime showed approximately 420 million containers are shipped by sea every year worldwide but the number of containers monitored is less than 2 percent, making it easy for transnational criminal organizations to take advantage of sea shipping to illegally transport drugs and banned goods.

          Recently, Asean enforcement has busted a considerable number of drug trafficking rings using sea routes.

          In 2018, Malaysia intercepted two tons of synthetic drugs being transported to the country while Indonesia made a bust of 2.7 tons of synthetic drugs brought from China.

          Các said the transit of containers through many countries made it difficult to investigate ring leaders and called on Asean member-nations to join investigations and proactively propose cooperation initiatives on combating drug crime and mobilizing resources for the work.

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          The fifth meeting of the Asean task forces will be hosted by Brunei in 2020. (VNS)


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