More than $460 million in cash and bearer negotiable instruments (BNIs) and some 300 weapons have been seized in a global counter-smuggling operation coordinated by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and INTERPOL.
From September 19 to October 17, 2016, in the operation codenamed Chimera, which involved 70 countries, a total of 229 seizures/detentions were reported including cash destined for conflict zones or linked to individuals from those areas.
An additonal 349 warning messages were also issued in relation to cash and BNIs. A number of individuals were found to have declared cash on departure of one country but failed to declare it, or gave a different amount, upon arrival at their destination.
Focusing on express courier and mail services, the operation targeted the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, cash and BNIs such as checks, bearer bonds and postal orders.
Among the key seizures was a record interception of $450 million made by customs officers in Toluca, Mexico.
Interceptions were made at key border points in the participating countries, supported by operational units established at the WCO in Brussels, Belgium, and the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France, to ensure an effective flow of information between customs and police.
Operation Chimera will now move into a second phase with continued joint activity by WCO and INTERPOL, analyzing the results to target the actors behind the seizures.
Operation Chimera is in line with the WCO’s Punta Cana Resolution of 2015 which emphasized the need for close cooperation between customs and other law enforcement authorities with a view to enhancing border security, identifying, disrupting and dismantling criminal and destabilizing organizations and individuals.