South America - Risk: Drug Trafficking throughout South America

South America, Risk: Drug Trafficking throughout South America

15/08/2014 UTC Posn -22.934418 - -43.058839


The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) annual report for 2016 indicates that South America is an important hub for maritime drug trafficking.

Assessment and Analysis

Shipowners and ship managersmay wish to consider taking the following precautions to protect their vessel against trafficking:

Crew departing on shore leave should be aware of approach by drug traffickers and the dangers to them, their fellow crew members and their families back at home should they become involved in trafficking.

Drugs use and trafficking warning notices should be displayed at prominent locations throughout the vessel, particularly at the gangway and in crew’s communal areas.

Gangway security should be maintained at all times, in strict accordance with the vessel’s ISPS Code procedures. The actions taken by local authorities, stevedores and other shore-based personnel should also be recorded at regular intervals. Crew members should have a permanent presence wherever stevedores or other officials are operating on board the ship.

Access to the vessel should be restricted and the surrounding area carefully monitored whilst in port. All parties boarding the vessel should have their credentials scrutinized and individuals who have no legitimate reason for being on-board should be denied entry. Accurate records of all activities observed both on board and ashore should be maintained throughout the vessel’s stay in port.

During the hours of darkness, the ship and quay should be permanently lit by the ship’s flood lights and any suspicious movements be immediately reported to the master. A careful watch of the offshore side of the vessel should be maintained and the presence of any boats approaching the ship should be immediately reported to the master. The ship’s searchlights may assist in this respect.

The crew should perform regular shipboard inspections and a record of these maintained in the ship’s logbook. Broken security seals should be investigated and findings recorded in the ship’s log book. Once cargo operations are completed, the crew should perform a full search of the vessel for any illegal substances, suspect packages or stowaways. This might also include a dive survey of the area below the water line.

Once the vessel has sailed and the outbound pilot has disembarked, a thorough search of all compartments should be conducted and the results recorded in the logbook.

If drugs are discovered on board, the master should immediately activate the vessel’s Emergency Contingency Plan and/or the Ship’s Security Plan. The master should then notify the relevant local authorities, noting the following actions:

* The drugs should not be handled or moved.
* The area where the drugs have been discovered should be photographed then sealed to prevent any further access.
* Inform your P&I Club, the local P&I Correspondent, the ship’s owner and technical manager.
* Record the actions taken in the ship’s log book.

Guidelines for the Prevention and Suppression of the Smuggling of Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Precursor Chemicals on Ships Engaged in International Maritime Traffic can be read here.

Further information and live updates on the situation globally can be found by visiting the UNODC wesite here