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Awards for seizures of illegal refrigerants

PARAGUAY: Government officers and organisations of six Latin American countries have received awards for preventing illegal trade in refrigerants.

The awards were made last week during a three-day training workshop on the illegal trade of environmentally regulated goods in Asuncion, Paraguay. It was attended by national ozone officers and customs officers from 16 Latin American countries.

The first two days of the workshop focused on practical cooperation to support compliance with national obligations under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. It was organised by United Nations Environment Programme’s OzonAction Branch and the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Paraguay, with support from the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol.

One of the highlights of the workshop was the presentation of the Global Montreal Protocol Award for Customs and Enforcement Officers, first launched in January 2018 jointly by OzonAction, the Ozone Secretariat and the World Customs Organisation.

Government officers and organisations of Argentina, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Paraguay received an award for preventing illegal trade of substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol. Colombia also received an award for promoting effective information exchange between importing and exporting countries.


The Ozone Programme Office of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and the Customs Service of the Ministry of Finance of Argentina 

For the seizure in 2009 of 1,150 cylinders of HCFC-22 mis-labeled as HFC-134a. The case was prosecuted and heavily fined. The next step is the final disposal of the seized refrigerants.

Costa Rica

Cindy Sofia Sterling Howard from Limon Customs Office and Luis Gerardo Barrantes Suarez from Fiscal Control Police of Costa Rica.

Together seized 412 cylinders of HCFC-22 in 2014. Due to effective post-control measures, the Costa Rica National Customs Service managed to identify past illegal traffic and confiscate the remaining goods.

Dominican Republic 

The Ozone National Programme of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the General Directorate of Customs of the Dominican Republic.

For the seizure of 6,700 cylinders of CFC-12 mislabeled as HFC-134a in 2017. The company was subjected to a fine and the cylinders are to be re-exported to the country of origin.


The Ozone Technical Unit, Secretariat of Natural Resources and Environment of Honduras and the Executive Directorate of Revenue Customs Office of Puerto Cortes.

For nine different seizures of illegal traffic between 2015-2018 of used milk tanks and air conditioners containing HCFC-22. The confiscated equipment was retrofitted to alternative refrigerants before it was donated to public institutions.


Juan Carlos Amarilla Rojas, the Green Customs Focal Point and the General Directorate of Customs of Paraguay. 

Three seizures that included 1,150 cylinders of mainly HCFC-22 in 2010, and 27,000 split air conditioning units using HCFC-22, in 2015.

The award to Paraguay


The Ozone Technical Unit of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia.

Received an award in the effective use of OzonAction’s informal Prior Informed Consent (iPIC) mechanism for the import and export of ozone depleting substances. In this case, China’s Import/Export Licensing Office contacted Colombia and appropriately identified that the export permit request made in China did not match with the import license issued by the Colombian authorities. As a result, the export of 4,704 kg of HCFC-22 was rejected.

The Global Montreal Protocol Awards are promoted as an example of the crucial role that customs play in fighting illegal trade in ozone depleting substances and the importance of ensuring effective customs training on environmentally sensitive commodities as well as of sharing information between importing and exporting countries. A total of 9,412 cylinders and 27,024 items of equipment were seized in Latin America by these countries. In some cases, the issue of disposal of the seized goods (re-export, destruction, auctioning and tracking of operations) is still being decided.

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