“Technology has practically abolished time and space, so we should know what goes on around the planet at any moment. We don’t,” Costa said. “There are so many forgotten places, out of government control, too scary for investors and tourists.”
“These are precisely the places where smugglers, insurgents and terrorists operate,” he said. “Unperturbed and undetected, they run fleets of ships and planes, trucks and containers that carry tons of drugs and weapons.”
Costa said that ignorance about what happens in those blank spots, one of which spans a large section of the Atlantic Ocean, “has deadly consequences.”
In an interview with Reuters, Costa said the international community often learns of surveillance blind spots “by chance, such as when a plane crashes.”
During a recent visit to West Africa, a minister in one country told Costa that the nation’s authorities knew of 19 unregistered flights landing on their territory recently – flights that could have been carrying illicit cargo.
In Sierra Leone, Costa saw a large Cessna plane that flew into the country from Venezuela in the middle of the night with 1,650 pounds (750 kg) of cocaine. In that case the drugs were seized thanks to the sharing of intelligence.
“It landed at night, at 2 o’clock in the morning,” he said, when the airport was not illuminated. “Luckily they were informed, so they were waiting for them.”
Reuters report on a UNODC report about satellite, radar, and other surveillance ‘blind spots’ and how they facilitate international crime and trafficking.