Illicit trade by small parcels is growing in significant volumes, in part due to the increase in online shopping, the proliferation of online marketplaces and e-commerce platforms. These may be subject to limited regulations or inadequate monitoring systems, making it easier for offenders to conduct illicit transactions below the radar.
A survey conducted by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), with the support of TRACIT, found a large number of postal operators reporting counterfeit goods as a major problem. In 2018, OECD noted that nearly 63 percent of customs seizures of counterfeit goods were in the form of small parcels.
Illicit traders exploit the advantages of trading in small parcels, as they often evade detection by overwhelmed law enforcement agencies. Limited manpower and inadequate infrastructure and technologies hinder a thorough examination of the vast number of small parcels entering ports daily. Offenders exploit this oversight and take advantage of the lower risk of detection compared to larger shipments, which may undergo more stringent inspections.
The verification process for small parcels is typically less rigorous than for larger shipments. Criminals can provide false or insufficient information when sending or receiving small parcels, making it easier for them to operate discreetly and avoid detection.
Illicit goods trafficked through small parcels is a complex problem, which differs between postal carriers and express carriers.
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