With the illegal drug trade touching USD 650 billion globally and having a devastating economic impact, CBIC Chairman Sanjay Kumar Agarwal on Monday called upon international customs authorities to share insights and advanced detection techniques in drug-related crimes.
As global trade continues to interconnect and economies flourish, there is a corresponding rise in the potential for unlawful movement of restricted items like antiques, cigarettes, gold and endangered wildlife species, among others, he added.
"The undercurrent of illegal trade in narcotics remains strong. Global drug trafficking is estimated to be worth USD 650 billion, contributing 30 per cent of the overall illicit economy. It is having a devastating impact...," said the chief of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).
Speaking at the Global Conference on Cooperation in Enforcement Matters organised by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Agarwal said crimes involving illicit trade many a time have possible linkages with money laundering and terror financing, which impacts national security.
"We understand export-import fraud threatens the global supply chain and is inimical to economic and national security. Thus, we collectively work to defeat the transnational syndicate for which there is a constant need for cooperation and coordination of national and international law enforcement agencies," he said.
Agarwal said the theme of the conference 'It takes a network to fight a network' is built upon the importance of intelligence and information sharing to curb such illegal trade.
He said it is vital to share "insights into emerging trends and advanced detection techniques, particularly in the context of drug-related crimes", with the emergence of a closely connected digital world and layers of anonymity.
The CBIC chief said the landscape of smuggling, tax evasion, commercial fraud and trade-based money laundering has undergone a paradigm shift post the Covid pandemic, and the rise of e-commerce and use of crypto assets for cross-border transactions have added a layer of complexity requiring heightened focus on enforcement, regulation and international cooperation to address associated challenges.
The Indian Customs, he said, is actively exploring technologies, including big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, image analytics, natural language understanding, network analytics and open source intelligence to detect fraud.
The theme of this conference was 'It takes a network to fight a network'. Vital is the sharing of insights into emerging trends and advanced detection techniques, particularly in the context of drug-related crimes.
In 2022, the value of global trade in goods stood at USD 25 trillion, while the value in services was USD 7 trillion, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO).