Smuggling on the sea is “hot” again

VCN – 13,000 lit of DO oil; 196.6 kg of fire crackers of all kinds; 168.25 ton of frozen buffalo meat have been seized by Marina Unit 1 (Northern Customs Marine Enforcement Fleet). It has showed that the smuggling activities by sea are getting hot again.
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Ship of Marina Unit 1 impounded ironship which was used for transport frozen buffalo meat to the inspection area. Photo: Quang Hùng

According to the indication of Anti-smuggling and Investigation Department (General Department of Vietnam Customs), the smuggling situation, transporting of illegal cargo on sea routes and in international seaports is still focusing on some items such as: petrol, oil, wood, minerals, wild animals, used electronic and refrigerated products,…

In order to fight effectively against violations at sea, leader of Northern Customs Marine Enforcement Fleet (Marine Unit 1, Anti-smuggling and Investigation Department) said that, besides patrols regularly and irregularly patrolling in internal waters, territorial waters and contiguous zones, in order to prevent acts of smuggling and illegal cross-border goods transportation, the units have paid attention to the gathering and processing of information from public and secret sources, related domestic and foreign sources. At the same time, the units implemented professional measures to prevent, detect, investigate and handle acts of smuggling and illegal transportation of goods across border by sea.

In 2017, Marine Unit 1 detected and handled 13 cases of smuggling and illegal transportation of goods on the sea; the value of violated goods was 4.5 billion VND. Moreover, only in the first two months of 2018, this unit has detected and processed 3 cases of smuggling and illegal transportation of goods across borders; with total value of infringing goods of over 10 billion VND. Remarkably, among the infringing goods items that are regularly found within the "scope" of the Customs enforcement forces, Marine Unit 1 has detected and seized nearly 200 kg of firecrackers of all kinds and approximately 170 tons of frozen buffalo meat.

Typically, the implementation of the Special Combat Plan PN-118 of the Marine Unit 1 has been approved by the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department, in 24/1/2018, at the coordinates 21o48'11 "N; 108o09'14 "E on the North-East Coast of Quang Ninh Province, the working group of Marine Unit 1 detected a high speed motorboat, including 3 people while they were drawing alongside for loading cargo onto a raft (a Chinese raft is used for fishing) with motor and no license plate. When the subjects discovered Customs forces, they jumped on the speedboat and ran toward to the Chinese sea area. There, the Customs force searched the vessel and seized 10 carton boxes of firecrackers of different kinds, there was Mandarin printed on the package showing a total weight of 196.6 kg.

One month later, on 26/2, 168.25 tons of frozen buffalo meat of unknown origin, valued at 13 billion VND were being loaded on an iron ship for transporting in the Vietnam sea area, were detected and prevented in the Gulf of Tonkin area. At the inspection time, the ship was on a journey on the 220-degree into the Vietnamese territory. The captain and crew member on board could not show any relevant documents proving that the total quantity of goods on board had completed import procedures.

From the observation of the Customs News’s reporter at the scene, the infringing goods were a large number of carton boxes, the weight written on the boxes was 25 kg, with the words FROZEN BONELESS PREMIUM BUFFALO MEAT on the package. All the goods were frozen buffalo meat in the carton boxes and in packed condition. The goods on board were preserved in cold storage.

Sharing with Customs News’s reporter, Mr. Pham Van Huynh, captain of Northern Customs Marine Enforcement Fleet said that, the smuggling activities on the sea occurs complicatedly in the adjacent sea, with the distance from inland of 50 to 70 nautical miles (about 90 to 130 km). Bad weather with lots of fog, waves, wind ... are major obstacles for the specialized customs force to perform their duties in the fight against smuggling at sea. Not only that, activities were organized by smuggling lines in groups and equipped with modern vehicles. The masterminds are not usually caught, but they play a commanding role and direct hired laborers from inland. Then these people control the ship at high speed in order to escape the Customs force patrol boats.

In recent years, the General Department of Vietnam Customs has concentrated on investing in modern equipment for patrolling and controlling land and sea borders. In the near future, the Marine Unit 1 will receive an additional patrol boat to meet the mission requirements in the new situation. Overcoming difficulties and limitations in the implementation of current tasks, civil servants and crew members of the Marine Unit 1 are still facing the major task of conducting patrols and controlling the sea every day and night for preventing smugglers from crossing the border.

By Quang Hùng/Thanh Thuy

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