Fermin Cuza, Senior Vice President of International Trade and Worldwide Government Affairs at Mattel, and a former Customs District Director in California, led the effort business leaders tagged BASC (Business Anti-Smuggling Coalition). Cuza and BASC convinced industry colleagues that this partnership would distinguish itself by its commitment to examining and securing each and every link in the manufacturing and shipping chain. The approach would be the most comprehensive devised thus far.

Cuza scored a knockout victory with BASC. The innovative partnership, which "belongs" to industry and not to Customs, combines "best practices" and good ideas culled from every part of the public and private sectors. It provides a forum where businesspeople and Customs officials can trade real world information. The BASC program also keeps its members up-to-date on the latest and best security practices in use.

Public-Private Partnerships Counter International Smuggling Attempts

The success of the industry-led initiative impressed the U.S. Customs Service - so much so that the Federal law enforcement agency decided to take a cue from its own "customers."

The Customs Service proposed another effort called America's Counter Smuggling Initiative, or ACSI. Like BASC, ACSI is a comprehensive approach to preventing exploitation of the drug manufacturing and shipping process by the cartels.




Today, Customs is bringing its anti-narcotics programs, training, and technical assistance to industry and government throughout Mexico and Central and South America. "Historically," says Special Agent Robert Perez, Director of Industry Partnerships at Customs, " business and government have had competing goals - facilitation versus enforcement. Now, we've proven these goals can be complimentary. We've begun to share the responsibilities, and we'll continue to share the rewards."

Customs Commissioner Ray Kelly is even more direct. "These industry partnerships are one of the most powerful weapons we have today in the war on drugs."

Enforcement "Customers" Take the Lead

From all appearances, the Customs Commissioner is right. These counter-drug partnerships are making a difference. In 1999, information provided by industry "partners" resulted in 42 domestic seizures totaling 8,428 pounds of illegal narcotics and 190 foreign intercepts of almost 36,000 pounds of narcotics headed for the United States. And, over the last five years, participants in the Carrier Initiative Programs, BASC, and ACSI helped intercept over 151,000 pounds of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana headed for this country. Amazingly, BASC chapters have appeared in places once believed to "belong" exclusively to the drug lords: Medellin, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Pareira, and Bogota. BASC Chapters also have sprung up in Peru, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Venezuela.


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