Smuggling cases up slightly, value doubles in 2018

December 28, 2018 - 08:00

More than 16,600 cases of smuggling and trade fraud have been uncovered this year, up 10 per cent against last year, the General Department of Việt Nam Customs reported.

Economic police from Móng Cái City in Quảng Ninh Province discover an inventory of smuggled and illegally transported goods. — VNA/VNS Photo Doãn Tân
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — More than 16,600 cases of smuggling and trade fraud have been uncovered this year, up 10 per cent against last year, the General Department of Việt Nam Customs reported.

These statistics were released at a meeting held on Thursday by the department to summarise results of the fight against smuggling, trade fraud and illegal transportation of goods across the border in 2018.

“The smuggled goods were estimated to be worth more than VNĐ1.7 trillion (US$72.7 million), an increase of 116 per cent year-on-year. More than VNĐ350.9 billion was contributed to the State budget during this period through seizure of smuggled goods,” said Nguyễn Khánh Quang, deputy director of the anti-smuggling department of the General Department of Customs.

Particularly for drug smuggling, the entire customs sector has detected 216 cases, an increase of 114 per cent compared to the same period in 2017. They seized more than 54 kilos of heroin powder and 444 bricks of heroin, more than 128 kilos of synthetic drugs, 364,000 tablets and 185 bags of synthetic drugs, some 176 kilos of “ice” meth (crystalline methamphetamine), more than 104.8 kilos of cocaine, 2,500 kilos of alkaloid cathinone in khát (Catha edulis) leaves.

Quang said the smuggling of fake goods was getting more difficult to control as smugglers were using advanced techniques. The number of cases increased slightly compared to last year but the value of the smuggled goods increased sharply.

“The main areas of smuggling include all land border gates, seaports, airports and international post offices. The most common illegally trafficked products are drugs, weapons, documents and wild animals, as well as timber, gold, foreign liquor and oil, along with minerals, cigarettes, automobiles and machinery, in addition to refrigerators, food and many other types of goods,” Quang said.

Besides the achievements in the control, prevention and combat of smuggling and trade fraud, the customs sector was still facing many difficulties.

The current law only allows the customs authorities to launch criminal proceedings for three types of crimes, “smuggling”, “illegally transporting goods and money currency over the border” and “producing and trading banned goods”.

“However, there are many types of crimes occurring within the management framework of the customs sector such as illegal transportation of weapons and drugs across the border, tax evasion, money laundering and infringement of intellectual property rights. When detecting these cases, the customs authorities must transfer them to the investigating agencies, which took a lot of time on administrative procedures, failing to ensure promptness in detection and investigation,” Quang said.

During the investigation process, the seizure, preservation and use of material evidence are very important but the current law does not allow the customs authorities to build temporary storage for storing material evidence. Therefore, when seizing the evidence, the customs agencies must send it to the police agency, causing certain inconveniences and slowing down the investigation progress.

In an effort to fight this crime, authorities are reinforcing patrolling teams and inspection in key areas such as border lines, Quang said, adding that they had also strengthened the investigation and assessment capacities in hotspots of smuggling and trade fraud and were imposing strict penalties on smugglers.

Quang added that customs agencies had increased the use of high-tech equipment to efficiently and timely support the tracking and identification of smuggling activities on a larger scale. — VNS