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9 Sep, 2017

Asia-Pacific environmental crime fighters recognized for tackling illegal trade in chemicals, hazardous waste

Bangkok, 7 September 2017: (UNEP media release): Poor enforcement of environmental regulations is a major problem in the travel & tourism industry. Industry events looking for award-winning crime-fighters to address them as speakers on the challenge may find it useful to contact any of the eight winners of this year’s Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards.

Enforcement officers and organizations from China, Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines and Sri Lanka were conferred the awards at the Second Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific held between 4-8 September at the UN’s regional HQ in Bangkok. They were recognised for seizures amounting to nearly 600,000 tons of hazardous waste and chemicals that together amounted to some US$300 million.

Environmental crimes, which include illegal trade in wildlife, illicit trade in forests and forestry products, illegal dumping of waste including chemicals, smuggling of ozone depleting substances and illegal mining, comes at a hefty cost – estimated at some US$91-258 billion.

It is now the fourth largest illegal crime after drug smuggling, counterfeiting and human trafficking. Illegal trade in and dumping of hazardous waste in 2015 was tabbed at US$12-19 billion. In 2013, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime reported that illegal trade in e-waste to Southeast Asia and the Pacific was estimated at US$3.75 billion annually.

“Millions of tonnes of hazardous waste and harmful chemicals are transported to and within Asia, with sometimes severe consequences for people and the environment. These awards recognize the front-line work of the enforcement officers and institutions who play such a crucial role in enforcing environmental laws and safeguards. They exemplify the kind of courage, dedication and remarkable spirit of public service we need to protect people and planet, not only in Asia but the world over,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

“Their work is not often seen in the public eye, but it is critical for it to be seen and supported.”

The Asia Environmental Enforcement Award is an initiative of UN Environment, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency to encourage countries, organizations and individuals in the region to combat environmental crime and to reward excellence in enforcement.

Award winners include :


Mrs. Enkhtuya Surenjav, Lecturer Trainer of General Authority for Customs and Taxation of Mongolia: For training of over 1,200 customs officers in Mongolia that led to seizures of illegal chemicals and waste

Mr. Rajapaksa Pathirage Don Tharaka Seneviratne, Retired Additional Director General of Sri Lanka customs: For building national capacity among customs officers in Sri Lanka and training customs officers in Asia Pacific, both of which led to a number of seizures of illegal ozone depleting substances and chemical in Sri Lanka and the region.

Mr. LIU Xiaohui, Director General of the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of the General Administration of China Customs: For promoting information and intelligence sharing and initiating successful national, regional and global enforcement operations that led to seizures of thousands of tons of illegal hazardous wastes and ozone depleting substances.

Mr. Chang Ryung Han, Director of the Investigation Division of the Korea Customs Service: For tackling cross-border environmental crimes, especially in e-waste and toxic chemicals and for designing a special enforcement plan for the Korea Customs Services that led to investigation of 50 illegal cross-border trade and seizures of 238,000 tons of illegal waste and chemicals.


National Management Office of Ozone Depleting Substances of the People’s Republic of China: For leading in controlling trade in illegal ozone depleting chemicals in China which stopped illegal trade of 280 metric tonnes of ozone depleting substances and for assisting China Customs in 16 smuggling cases.

The Mobile Team of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar: For undertaking extensive investigations into illegal movement of waste that led to multiple seizures of illegally imported electronic waste like used computers and computer accessories into Myanmar.

The Anti-Smuggling Bureau, General Administration of China Customs: For initiating and supporting national and global environmental enforcement operations that lead to seizures of 374,000 tonnes of illegal waste in 2016.

Environmental Protection Unit, Enforcement and Security Service, Bureau of Customs, Philippines: For persisting in combatting environment crime that lead to seizures of 700 kilograms of illegal ozone depleting substances, 20 metric tonnes of illegal chemicals and 90 containers of hazardous waste oil and electronic waste.

Full Details (as provided to Travel Impact Newswire by the UN Environment Program)


Mrs. Enkhtuya Surenjav, Former Customs officer/lecturer, Training Center of General Customs Organization of Mongolia

Email: enkhtuyasur@yahoo.com

Mrs. Enkhtuya Surenjav has cooperated with UNEP as a UNEP trainer since 2001. Has an experience training Customs officers on identifying and control of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) under the Montreal Protocol. Her contribution in enforcing and implementing Montreal Protocol, preventing illegal trade of ODS is valuable. She has prepared and updated training guides in Mongolian on ODS control and prevention of illegal trade of ozone-depleting substances.

From 2016 she retired and part-time worked at “Femida Mongol-Od”, a non-governmental organization serving a social purpose to provide advice and organize trainings in the domain concerning customs aspects.    


Since 2001, she has been successfully held sustainable trainings on Ozone Depleting Substances control and preventing illegal trade. Therefore, 30 trainings were conducted at all border points, including Ulaanbaatar, Sukhbaatar, Zamiin-Uud, Uvs, Bayan-Ulgii, Darkhan, Orkhon and other provinces. Over 1200 customs officers have attended national trainings on identification, classification, control, counterfeit, checking papers, prevention illegal trade of Ozone Depleting Substances and other related issues. Mrs. Enkhtuya has prepared training guides in Mongolian three times. Moreover, she translated and prepared Mongolian version of Training materials of Ozone Depleting Substances control and prevention of illegal trade.  

She also selected as an assistant trainer in Russian speaking countries. In 2002 she was appointed as an assistant trainer of Professor Janusz Kozakiewicz to organize trainings in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. She has an international experience, which we proud of her.

Her contribution in implementing Montreal Protocol not only in training and prepare guides for customs, she also participated in international and domestic seminar and meetings with importers, she prepared presentation on further issues such as solving problems arising with ODS imported from China with documents in Chinese, which is cause difficulties in identification and presentation on Overview and Problems of border control of ODS in Mongolia. Also participated actively in meetings with importers.

Rajapaksa Pathirage Don THARAKA SENEVIRATNE, Additional Director General, Sri Lanka Customs

Email: tharas30@gmail.com

An accredited Montreal Protocol training Resource Person, Mr. Rajapaksa Pathirage Don Tharaka Seneviratne has, over the past 14 years worked with the National Ozone Unit of the Ministry of Environment (NOU), Sri Lanka in organizing a large number of training sessions for national Customs officers and industry stakeholders, helping to build national capacity for better implementation of the Montreal Protocol and prevent the illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances.


Mr. SENEVIRATNE had assisted the National Ozone Unit of Ministry of Environment, Sri Lanka by holding a large number of training sessions to educate Customs officers as well as the industry sector. He is a key person in training and capacity building of Customs Officers and spreading the Montreal Protocol’s message among them.

Whereas in 2002 the phrase “Ozone Layer Depletion” was unknown among most of the Customs Officers, Mr. SENEVIRATNE’s collaboration with the NOU and his hard work had made it a part of the common knowledge among the officers now. That has paved the way for better implementation of the Montreal Protocol regulations and prevent of illegal trafficking of Ozone depleting substances.

Mr. SENEVIRATNE had also attended a number of Customs/Ozone Collaboration Meetings in several regional countries organized by UN Environment, and contributed in building up harmony with the Ozone Officers.

Liu Xiaohui, Director General, Anti-smuggling Bureau(ASB), General Administration of China Customs(GACC).

Email: liuxiaohui@customs.gov.cn; shenxinlu_asb@163.com ; leiyutian06@163.com

Mr. Liu Xiaohui is the Director General of Anti-smuggling Bureau since 2011. As an environmental enforcement practitioner, Mr. LIU Xiaohui led the national anti-smuggling task force to outstanding achievements, always sticking to the philosophy that to protect the environment is to protect the future of human beings. Mr. LIU Xiaohui always sticks to the idea of smart smuggling suppression and all-direction cooperation, accordingly promotes international enforcement cooperation, thus winning a high reputation among enforcement agencies around the world.


In 2006, at the initiative of Mr. Liu, the ODS enforcement operation was named “Project Sky-Hole-Patching”, having enriched cultural connotation of enforcement and compliance.

From 2016 to 2017, Mr. LIU Xiaohui organized several nationwide operations targeting wastes smuggling, such as “National Sword” and “Operation Blue Sky”. His team has investigated 183cases and seized 374000 tons of illegal waste in the past two years.

Under Mr. LIU Xiaohui’s leadership, ASB of GACC collects and analyzes the global smuggling trend relative to environmental crime, actively shares intelligence and conducts extensive international cooperation. As a result, ASB severely punishes environmental smuggling crime with other enforcement agencies.

In recent year, China Customs, under the leadership of Mr. LIU Xiaohui, has either initiated or actively participated in combating environmental crime organized by WCO, for instance “Project Sky-Hole-Patching I”, “Project Sky-Hole-Patching II”, “Operation Demeter I”, “Operation Demeter III”, etc. During international operations he actively commanded to share intelligence and information to achieve a win-win situation.

In four consecutive years since 2014, Mr. Liu has led ASB to carry out enforcement capacity building programs in combating ODS trafficking with Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Chang Ryung HAN, Director, Investigation Planning Division of Korea Customs Service

Email: changhaan@korea.kr

As Director of the Investigation Planning Division of the Korea Customs Service (KCS), Mr. Chang Ryung HAN has been in charge of planning and overseeing customs investigations in Korea. After his appointment as the director of the Division in March 2017, he focused tackling cross-border environmental crimes, in particular smuggling in e-waste and toxic chemicals.


He designed a special enforcement plan to fight illegal cross-border transactions involving environmental pollutants and managed several operations derived from the plan. As a result, the KCS was able to investigate 50 cases of illegal cross-border trade of environmental pollutants, during the two months.

His team seized an attempted smuggling of 18 tons of dimethylamine, industrial gas destroying the ozone layer, as well as illicit imports of 2,476 vehicles without legitimate emission test certificates, which may pose air pollution threats, and illegal imports of 5,975 tons of waste oil.

Mr. Chang Ryung HAN was in charge of organizing the “Green Customs Initiative” workshop held in Korea in June 2017 to raise awareness of threats incurred from environmental crimes and to enhance enforcement capabilities. Lectures from the international organizations were invited to share modus operandi of transnational environmental crimes and present best practices to raise customs investigators’ understanding of environmental crimes and enhance their investigative capabilities.

Based on his experience in the World Custom Organization as a technical officer of the research unit from June 2011 to June 2016, Mr. Han strives to collaborate closely with International Organizations to better respond to the environmental crimes. As part of the effort, he is working tirelessly to ensure training and working opportunities at IOs for customs investigators.


China’s National ODS Import and Export Management I/E Office

Address: No. 5 Houyingfang Hutong, Xicheng District, Beijing 100035,China      

Tel: 86-10-82268920, Fax: 86-10-82200524, Email: song.yang@mepfeco.org.cn

China’s National Management Office of Ozone Depleting Substances Import and Export, has played a proactive role in controlling the trade in ozone depleting substances in the country which is the world’s largest ODS producer and exporter, thereby helping China fulfil its Montreal Protocol commitments. This has included information exchange, capacity building, policy support, law enforcement and inter-agency cooperation with other countries


The National Management Office conducted information exchange with foreign countries 671 times, and prevented 280 metric tons of illegal Ozone Depleting Substances trade.

Developed an online approval system on Ozone Depleting Substances trade, and facilitated to monitor real time customs clearance on Ozone Depleting Substances trade.

Provided policy support to Ozone Depleting Substances trade control. The National Management Office revised and issued the “Ozone Depleting Substances Import and Export Management Measures” in order to enhance Ozone Depleting Substances trade control in 2014.

Set up the communication mechanism with Anti-Smuggling Bureau of China Customs, and provided technical support on risk profiling and investigation. In the past two years, the National Management Office has helped China Customs in investigating 16 Ozone Depleting Substances smuggling cases

Supported various law enforcement operations organized by China Customs and World Customs Organizations such as Project Sky Hole Patching, Demeter, and Green Fence via organizing consultation meetings, trainings and technical support.

Organized and participated in border dialogues with the Central Asian countries, Lao PDR and other countries to promote cross border cooperation on combating illegal trade.

Signed an MOU with China Customs on enhancing capacity building on Ozone Depleting Substances control, and organized 20 training workshops and trained more than 1,400 customs National Management Officers in 10 key customs districts in China in the past two years.

Under the support of the Implementing Agencies of Montreal Protocol, the National Management Office has provided 135 ODS identifiers to China Customs.

The National Management Office has facilitated the inter agency cooperation between local Customs houses and Environmental Protection Bureaus by organizing more than 20 consultation meetings and field visits. The National Management Office has helped China fulfil its commitments to Montreal Protocol, and its achievements has been recognized by various international institutions.

Anti-Smuggling Mobile Team, Myanmar

Address: Mr. Nay Thu Aung, Assistant Director, Department Of Trade, Ministry Of Commerce

Email: nayaung36@gmail.com

The anti-smuggling mobile team was formed in November 2012 by 12 different departments of government (the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Commerce etc.) as directed by the President’s Office in order to eliminate the illegal trading. These teams were deployed in places such as the international airports, the sea ports as various other trade routes around the country to seize smuggled goods. Along with the Customs Department, Mobile Team has been continuously fighting against pollution crime.


The Mobile team undertook extensive investigations to target illegal trade in waste, and made important and high-profile seizures. Flagship achievements were on preventing the illegal import of electronic waste into Myanmar, with multiple seizures made of used computers and computer accessories being smuggled into the country over land and sea borders.

The Mobile Team members led by U San Phyo Wai had seized Used Computers which were declared as Metal Scrap. The used computers were classified as hazardous electronic-waste according to Basel Convention. The seized hazardous is repatriated to the country of origin and the involved criminals must cover all the related costs.

Mobile Team members led by U Myint Htoo (Assistant Director) had examined a container which was declared as ‘Computer Accessories such as Hard Disks and Diskettes. A physical examination of the content of the container lead to the detection of tonnes of electronic waste.

Anti-Smuggling Bureau of General Administration of China Customs

Address: No.6. Jianguomennei Avenue, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China      

Tel: (+86) 10 6519 5594, Fax: +8610 65123851

Email: liuxiaohui@customs.gov.cn; shenxinlu_asb@163.com ; leiyutian06@163.com

In 1998, a police force was set up within China Customs, namely the Anti-smuggling Bureau of General Administration of China Customs (ASB of GACC), responsible for the suppression of smuggling, including combating waste smuggling crime. As the gate keeper, the ASB police assume great responsibility in combating waste trafficking. The anti-smuggling efforts have made outstanding contributions to the environmental protection.


Since the operation “National Sword”was launched last year, Anti-smuggling Bureau takes collaborative effort nationwide to combat waste smuggling. The Bureau has investigated 183 cases and seized 374000 tons of illegal waste in the past two years.

Anti-smuggling Bureau established a platform for information and intelligence sharing, facilitating information exchange, collecting information and intelligence.

Anti-smuggling Bureau has carried out enforcement capacity building programs, organized 10 local Anti-Smuggling Bureaus in different cities (e.g. Harbin, Qingdao)

In 2017, Anti-smuggling Bureau took two severe actions on imported wastes trafficking, with 180,000 tons of smuggled wastes seized.

The Bureau also initiated “Project Sky-Hole-Patching” operation which aims on information exchange on suspicious shipments of chemicals and waste.

Anti-smuggling Bureau takes an active role in the Regional and global enforcement efforts. Operations such as Demeter III aim to raising awareness, preventing the trafficking of waste, and enhancing mutual understanding and cooperation between Customs authorities, environmental agencies and competent law enforcement authorities.

Environmental Protection Unit (EPU), Enforcement and Security Service, Bureau of Customs – Philippines

Address: 16th Street, South Harbor, Port Area, Manila, Philippines

Tel: (632) 527-4643, Fax: (632) 527-4710, Email: EPU – epu_essboc@yahoo.com

The Environmental Protection Unit of the Bureau of Customs-Philippines was founded twenty years ago, and it is being continuously performing its mandates to fight Environmental Crime such as illegal trade in waste and chemicals including ozone depleting substances. It proofs the value of a specialized unit in a Customs organization.


The Environmental Protection Unit has filed more than 12 criminal cases on illegal shipments of hazardous waste and chemicals including 700 kilograms of illegal Ozone Depleting Substances, 20 metric tonnes of illegal chemicals, 5000 tonnes illegal hazardous waste in a bulk cargo vessel and 90 containers hazardous waste such as waste oil and electronic waste.

Through its officers and operatives, Environmental Protection Unit was able to attend and participate in more than 60 capacity-building workshops, seminars, meetings in the past year.

In combatting environmental crime Environmental Protection Unit cooperated with various international, regional and local enforcement organizations.