Operation TIN CAN, a joint operation involving customs, police, and other agencies, successfully cracked down organized crime efforts that exploit the container supply chain to smuggle drugs.
he TIN CAN operation, which lasted from November 14 to December 9, 2022, involved 58 countries and their Enforcement Agencies, with support from major shipping lines affected by this dangerous phenomenon. The operation had tangible results, with 43 arrests and 158 drug seizures, including the seizure of 98,734 kilograms of cocaine and 314 kilograms of cannabis herbals.
Furthermore, the operation confirmed that the “rip-on/rip-off concealment method” is the preferred modus operandi of criminals when moving illegal drugs around the world.
What is the rip-on/rip-off concealment method?
This technique involves the exploitation of a legitimate shipment to smuggle illicit goods. As containerized cargo moves from the country of origin or the trans-shipment port to the country of destination, trusted insiders in the supply chain are wittingly (often through threats to their own or their family’s safety) or unwittingly exploited by criminal organized groups who take advantage of their situations to tamper with legal shipments.
The key to the success of this method depends on both access to and insider knowledge about the location of a specific container – one that is often stored amongst thousands of other containers. It also relies upon coordination between insiders at both ends of the transport supply chain.
This method was observed in 107 reported container cases during the operation, resulting in seizures of 62,834 kilograms of cocaine. Other concealment techniques were used for the remaining seizure amounts.
The World Customs Organization (WCO), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the Australian Border Force, in partnership with members of the World Shipping Council, were involved.
According to the UNODC, the operation also strengthened trust and collaboration between industry and government, and the WCO and UNODC plan to further enhance cooperation and information exchange between Member States, the ocean shipping industry, and the private sector in other transport areas facing similar security threats.