World Customs Organization Director of Compliance and Facilitation Ana Hinojosa brought 28 years of customs experience to the global body when elected to her post in 2015. The former U.S. Customs and Border Protection deputy assistant commissioner-international affairs also served as director of field operations for the El Paso Field Office from 2008 to 2013 and as area port director for Los Angeles International Airport and Dallas Fort Worth International from 2002 to 2008. Hinojosa talked with HSToday about threats to global supply chain security along with blockchain, compliance and risk management.
HSToday: In what ways does the WCO security program strengthen customs administrations’ capacity to deal with security-related issues?
Hinojosa: This is another great question. I have to start by mentioning that customs administrations around the world are very different in size, organizational composition, resources and legal authorities. One thing that is true about all customs administrations is that they all stand at the borders of their countries and security threats arrive at their doorstep first. Sometimes it is hard to identify those threats, and that is exactly what we are hoping to address through our Security Program.
The WCO Security Program consists of five commodity-related areas that focus in each respective area on raising awareness of the specific threat, providing technical assistance and capacity-building to aid the customs administrations and their partners to deal with the security-related challenges.
The five areas include, in no particular order:
- Program Global Shield (PGS), which focuses on countering diversion of precursor chemicals, detonators and other components that are moving in the international supply chain.
- Strategic Trade Controls Enforcement (STCE) Program, which focuses on the destruction and prevention of illicit trafficking of dual-use commodities and weapons or mass effect and/or their delivery systems, and helping members to be able to affect controls against this at their borders.
- Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) Project is pretty self-explanatory in that it is designed to prevent and disrupt the illicit trafficking of firearms and light weapons.
- API/PNR support to aid members in improving their passenger controls and be able to identify and address foreign terrorist fighters.
- And addressing terrorist financing through a number of different modes, such as money laundering, bulk cash smuggling, illicit trade, etc.
The WCO has developed a number of tools and instruments to support members in these areas. Additionally, the WCO helps members engage other interagency partners to bring about more successful enforcement of any of these types of illicit activities. We offer members, and their partners, diagnostic missions, training and technical assistance. When we coordinate operations, we are able to raise the profile of customs with many other law enforcement agencies within their country and bring to light the important and strategic role that customs has in maintaining border security.
HSToday: What is Program Global Shield?
Hinojosa: Program Global Shield (PGS) is a WCO program that started as a project in 2010 and has now grown into a full-fledged program. PGS focuses awareness-raising, capacity-building and enforcement operations to counter the illicit trafficking and diversion of explosive precursor chemicals and other IED components. The contributions of PGS in the global effort to counter the threat posed by IEDs have been highlighted by the United Nations General Assembly.
The WCO organized a Global Shield regional operation in 2017. Thirty-four countries, three Regional Intelligence and Liaison Offices and representatives of both INTERPOL and UNODC participated in the four-month operation, which resulted in the seizure of several tons of precursor chemicals and other IED components. The benefits of coordinating these global operations last much longer than the specific operation itself. The capacity-building offered in advance of the operation helps the member officers be better prepared for identifying and seizing these types of illicit goods long after the operations are over.