Customs officers tackle air smuggling

Update: January, 06/2017 - 18:59
Customs officers at Nội Bài international airport in Hà Nội seize ivory in April 2016. – Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – The General Department of Customs has asked all local customs departments to take bold measures to prevent the smuggling of goods by air, which is expected to rise around Tết.

It has asked the customs departments in 10 cities and provinces including Hà Nội, Hải Phòng, Nghệ An, Thừa Thiên-Huế, Đà Nẵng, Đắk Lắk, Khánh Hòa, HCM City, Cần Thơ and Kiên Giang, to pay special attention.

The department said it saw positive results in 2016 because of the efforts made to prevent and combat smuggling and illegal transportation of goods by air. However, smuggling by air has continued to rise, which is affecting not only aviation security but also political security and social order, it said.

Operations will now focus on banned, high-value and easy-to-hide goods items such as drugs, weapons, gold, wild animal-based products, telephones, cigarettes, alcohol, cosmetics and supplementary food.

In recent years, smugglers have been using many tactics to illegally transport goods by air, the department said. They often act in groups or form trans-national smuggling rings, many of which are led by Africans. Sometimes Vietnamese citizens living abroad pretend to return to Việt Nam for business or travel, but actually work with local smugglers to transport contraband products.

Of late, smugglers have also been trying to gain the co-operation of airport and airline staff, which makes the fight against smuggling more difficult. For instance, last July, Hà Nội police arrested an air hostess for smuggling 3kg of gold by air.

To prevent smuggling, local customs departments have to increase surveillance, supervision and inspections. The customs branches at the border gates must observe customs procedures strictly for both passengers and luggage during exit, entry and transit, and strengthen inspections and supervision when warnings are issued by risk management units.

Provincial and city customs departments need direction and guidelines to collect and analyse information regarding people’s exits and entries, import and export businesses and suspicious shipments, and determine those who are high risk.

The department has asked the anti-smuggling and investigation department to promote customs inspection operations and focus on sensitive areas such as temporary imports, re-exports, bond warehouses, dependent transportation and businesses for duty-free goods and gift goods.

In the third quarter of 2016, the General Department of Customs detected 3,800 cases of smuggling and seized goods worth around VNĐ47.7 trillion (US$2.13 billion).

In the latest case, on Decemb­­­­er 25, customs officers at Tân Sơn Nhất Airport in HCM City arrested a foreign woman for allegedly smuggling in around 1.6kg of cocaine. – VNS