By Jack Anderson
Criminals and terrorists often hide guns, drugs, and trafficked people in freight containers. This smuggling fuels organized crime, terrorist networks, and other illicit enterprises and continues to pose a major challenge throughout Central Asia. To combat smuggling, the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan is supporting an Air Cargo Control Unit (ACCU) at Tashkent International Airport. The new unit will be the second ACCU in Central Asia after Kazakhstan’s Almaty International Airport unit, which launched in 2021.
The Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and Office of Export Control Cooperation funded the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Customs Organization’s Global Container Control Program to support the ACCU. The unit consists of customs officers and aviation security representatives who will screen, select, and inspect high-risk inbound and outbound air consignments. The ACCU is expected to increase detection of illicit goods by 50% and help border management collaboration in addressing international criminal activities.
“The opening of the ACCU will make a significant contribution to strengthening the mechanism of countering drug trafficking and transnational organized crime,” said Nodir Musamuhamedov, deputy chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Musamuhamedov also noted that active cooperation with the Global Control Program “contributes to improving the technical capacity of customs officials of Uzbekistan in controlling goods crossing the border.”
Jack Anderson is the director of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs office in Tashkent.