Law Enforcement Training: Enhance Your Toolkit to Spot Illicit Tobacco Products

Philip Morris International is proud to build on our successful training offered for the first time in 2020 to deliver another more in-depth and interactive course that will expand on the nexus between the illicit trade in tobacco products and transnational crimes, money laundering, and corruption, as well as elaborate on how to detect contraband and build a successful case. This 6-week webinar launches on Wednesday, March 17, and is free for active law enforcement officers involved in the investigation of financial crimes, money laundering, counterfeiting, and similar fields.

According to a Transnational Security Report  developed by the Munich Security Conference, the value of the illicit trade in tobacco is greater than that of oil, wildlife, timber, arts and cultural property, and “blood diamonds” combined.

Illicit trade is a serious and growing threat to society. Through smuggling, counterfeiting, and tax evasion, governments are losing billions in lost tax revenue, legitimate businesses are undermined, and consumers are exposed to poorly manufactured and unregulated products. Furthermore, terrorist networks and transnational criminal organizations profit from and use the proceeds from the illicit tobacco trade to finance their operations, threatening national security. This is exactly why the U.S. Government has taken notice time and again.

The Certification Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products: Convergence with Crime course will provide the following knowledge to equip law enforcement personnel around the world on how to spot tobacco being sold to finance crime and terrorist activities. Additionally, participants will:

  • Gain the opportunity to listen, ask questions, and interact with featured speakers sharing their knowledge and firsthand experience.
  • Improve their toolkit with ways to identify illicit trade in tobacco products with informed speakers, relevant topics, and key reading materials.
  • Use the course to reach out to the speakers and other attending agents covering similar crimes to collaborate.
  • Learn how the private sector cooperates with law enforcement to aid in information sharing, forensic analysis, and securing supply chains.
  • Hear from experienced consultants, attorneys, and agents to construct a winning case.

This course builds on the strong actions already taken by PMI to partner with law enforcement to eradicate illicit tobacco and protect national security. Most recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and PMI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to cement information sharing related to illicit tobacco trade.

Additionally, PMI has worked in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations, state and local law enforcement agencies to disrupt criminal networks involved in illicit trade in tobacco products for years. PMI has also convened with private sector leaders in a campaign designed to raise awareness about online fraud of personal protective equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the summer of 2020, the campaign informed opinion leaders, policymakers, and the public about the emerging threat and spotlighted available DHS resources to combat the trade in these goods, and called for citizens to report suspected fraud. The campaign resulted in reaching an estimated 77.2 million Americans and driving 346,322 clicks to DHS resources.

Together our collaborative work helps to thwart terrorist and criminal organizations that profit from the trade of illicit tobacco and jeopardize our national security.

Hope you can join us on Wednesday, March 17, for the second Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products: Convergence with Crime certification 6-week series.

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Hernan Albamonte is head of Illicit Trade Prevention U.S., Philip Morris International, Inc. Albamonte has been with Philip Morris International, Inc. for 13 years. He started with the company in his native country of Argentina, worked in Mexico, Central America and Switzerland before coming to Washington D.C. to head PMI’s illicit trade prevention efforts domestically.

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