Vietnam customs agency continues implementing Operation Mekong Dragon

The General Department of Vietnam Customs said on June 12 that it will continue with the Operation Mekong Dragon phase 6 (OMD 6), a programme cracking down on drugs and wildlife trafficking in the Asia-Pacific.

Customs officers discover the smuggling of ivory

Operation Mekong Dragon is a joint action programme of customs agencies and other law enforcement bodies in the region. It aims to combat the illegal trade of drugs, wild animals and plants, and products from the species in the list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Co-initiated by customs authorities of Vietnam and China, it was launched in 2018 with technical support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Asia and the Pacific (RILO AP).

As many as 25 customs agencies, law enforcement agencies, and international organisations have agreed to join OMD 6 so far.

Vietnam Customs in coordination with the UNODC organised a conference in Ho Chi Minh City from June 16-18 to launch OMD 6 with the participation of 64 domestic and foreign delegates.

Five phases of the program were carried out from 2018 to 2023.

The fifth phase ran from April 15 to November 16, 2023, with 1,715 cases uncovered as reported by member countries, surging 111 percent from the fourth phase, statistics showed.

It was deployed in Vietnam with 40 national contact points, including 38 of the customs force and two of police. They seized 123 drug and wildlife trafficking cases, a two-fold rise from the previous operation.

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