Illegal drug interdiction is dangerous work; for the Coast Guard, there is the added risk of dealing with weather and sea conditions in addition to the dangers inherent in confronting drug traffickers. This is why President TSAI Ing-wen of The Republic of China (Taiwan) points out that prosecuting a successful war on illegal drugs is a team effort involving many months of intensive work by the Coast Guard, Customs, Law Enforcement, and other ministries and agencies supported by narcotics detection and analytical technology.
The “New Generation Anti-Drug Strategy” is a top priority of the ROC government and part of a “Regional Joint Defense” strategy integrating six major anti-drug systems to combat the illicit drug trade, including inspections and intelligence to trace the source of the drugs.
Last year, following the Lunar New Year, President TSAI Ing-wen embarked on a campaign to encourage units of the Coast Guard, Law Enforcement, and other colleagues in the ministry to intensify their efforts. The result was the cracking of a case against the largest illicit drug packaging factory in China, seizing an illegal drug cache with a market value of nearly one billion Yuan. The factory, according to the President, was effectively also a massive logistics warehouse where not only drugs were stored and distributed but also raw materials and firearms.
For the Coast Guard, the key to putting a dent in this traffic is active interdiction, on-the-spot, real-time detection when vessels are intercepted, stopped, and searched either in coastal waters or on the high seas. Sea conditions can change rapidly, so the Coast Guard crews need quick and reliable, credible results, but also definitive results that will stand up in court, since there may not be a second opportunity to stop the same smuggler vessel.
This is now achievable with portable, quick-response material identification devices utilizing the latest technology. The latest handheld chemical analyzers integrate dual technologies – Raman and FTIR – for orthogonal analysis of a broad range of potentially dangerous solid and liquid chemicals. Raman and FTIR are highly specific and reliable identification methods, each with strengths and limitations. By integrating both Raman and FTIR into a single analyzer, operators harness the power of each technology while enabling a broader range of chemical identification, providing complementary and confirmatory testing in a single, field-portable device.
Some devices are capable of identifying more than 14,000 individual substances in an average of 30 seconds or less. Fast, safe, and accurate, they can identify unknown solids and liquids, from narcotics to explosives and chemical warfare agents to industrial chemicals and precursors using a comprehensive onboard library. These handheld analyzers have been used on many occasions to detect and identify narcotics that individuals or organizations were attempting to smuggle into or through China and Taiwan.
The investment in technology and resources, and the partnerships of law enforcement agencies has paid off. The Republic of China (Taiwan) Coast Guard Administration celebrated a significant victory; $30M in illegal narcotics, seized in the Coast Guard’s recent interdiction efforts. The bounty covered table after table in an impressive display that dramatically underscored an anti-drug policy that is really working.
President TSAI Ing-wen reiterated that anti-drug efforts are the government’s top priority and stressed that going forward, Taiwan’s anti-drug network will continue to grow and tighten like a net with ever-finer mesh, offering greater protection from drugs for Taiwanese society.
- Read the full case study: Fighting and Winning the War on Drugs in the China Seas
- View other Solutions for Government Agencies related to Narcotics, Chemical and Radiation Threats