The United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) have embarked on a joint project aimed at combating drug trafficking through the use of the postal service.
Supported by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the World Customs Organization (WCO), the project will focus on money laundering operations and the illegal dispatch of drugs through mail networks, particularly in Africa, according to a joint statement issued in Bern and Vienna.
The project, for which $300,000 has been earmarked, will assist 18 countries in East, West, and North Africa to strengthen their postal control, inspection systems and cooperation with law enforcement bodies. It will stretch over two years during which postal, police and customs officers and managers will undergo training programmes developed jointly by experts from the four organizations.
UNDCP Executive Director Pino Arlacchi said organized criminal groups were increasingly using Africa as a clearinghouse for drugs in transit to all parts of the world and that the postal system was especially vulnerable because it offered anonymity and easy access. The new project, he said, will give national postal services training and access to expertise that will enable them to combat these crimes.
The UPU is a UN specialized agency that oversees the worldwide postal service. UNDCP works to educate the world about the dangers of drug abuse and to strengthen international action against drug production, trafficking and related crimes through alternative development and anti-money laundering programmes.