|The biggest smuggling case of ivory at Hai Phong port ever seized by Hai Phong Customs Department on March 20, 2023. Photo: T.Binh
When smuggling by air soars
In the first quarter of 2023, the number of violations through air routes detected by the customs sector rocketed 185.7% to 460 cases and the total value of infringing goods surged 148.25% to VND123.8 billion year-on-year.
Director of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department (General Department of Customs) Nguyen Hung Anh said that the special cases are still being investigated, so it is not possible to give specific information, but the above figures show an alarming situation in terms of smuggling in the first months of the year, especially on the air route.
The leader of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department said with incentives on regimes and policies, the development of e-commerce, express delivery methods, logistics services, domestic and foreign smugglers have linked together to form smuggling rings to illegally transport goods and currency.
In particular, the transportation of narcotics by air has soared in both the number of cases and the value of infringing goods. The smugglers use many methods and tricks such as concealing, and disguising drugs as normal checked baggage, or cargo, and even hiding drugs in carry-on luggage.
Facing that situation, the leader of the General Department of Customs assigned customs units to drastically develop solutions to promptly fight against smuggling. In addition, Customs has actively coordinated with domestic and international agencies to combat crimes, especially drug crimes, and wildlife trafficking crimes.
“In April, the Leader Advisory Unit under the General Department of Customs chaired a meeting with leaders of the Drug-related Crime Investigation Police Department (C04, Ministry of Public Security) and some local police agencies to assess the smuggling situation and propose solutions to prevent and fight drug crimes on the air route. In addition, as assigned by the leader of the General Department, the leader of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department attended two important international events including the Regional Customs High-level Drug Enforcement Forum (in Hong Kong, China in February 2023) attended by more than 100 delegates from 40 delegations and the briefing of Operation Mekong Dragon V which took place from April 11 to 13, 2023, in Shanghai (China) with the participation of many countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region and a number of international organizations. These activities plus the solutions that have been implemented show the initiative of the Customs sector in assessing the situation and develop solutions to fight smuggling,” said Nguyen Hung Anh.
Another notable point is that through a series of professional instructions and guidelines from the General Department of Customs, anti-smuggling work, especially transnational drug crimes, is increasingly being implemented professionally. This is reflected in the high number of seizures and arrests.
Many smuggling cases handled
Along with the air route, the seaport area also saw many complicated cases related to banned goods, with the sophistication and boldness of smugglers, such as ivory smuggling cases seized by Hai Phong Customs Department in the first quarter of 2023.
“On the occasion of the end of the New Year and the beginning of the new year of 2023, the suspects tried to illegally transport hundreds of kilograms or even tons of ivory from Africa to Hai Phong port such as 490 kg of ivory illegally brought to Vietnam on January 22, 2023 (ie the 29th Lunar New Year), and the time to open the declaration was on January 28 (falling on the Saturday and the 7th of the Lunar New Year, one day after people returning to work after the Tet holiday),” Director of Hai Phong Customs Department Nguyen Duy Ngoc said.
The largest seizure ever of more than 7.6 tons of ivory and ivory products took place on March 20, 2023 in Hai Phong so far, the suspects also transported the shipment from Angola and conduct ship-to-ship in Singapore before visiting Hai Phong to conceal the shipping route and described the name of the goods in an uncommon language and used incorrect consignee information to evade the customs control.
However, with the initiative in implementing professional measures, Hai Phong Customs Department has presided over and coordinated with other authorities to promptly detect and handle smuggling cases.
These are only some examples showing that the smuggling situation has been very complicated. In particular, according to experts and managers, when the Covid-19 pandemic is under control, smuggling activities, especially banned goods, will become more complicated, because international criminal rings will find ways to “consume drug inventory” during more than two years of the pandemic.
|Three cases of smuggled and banned goods prosecuted
Hopefully, with the proactive and drastic actions of the Customs sector, the coordination and cooperation of management authorities and local agencies, transnational smuggling criminal networks and groups will be dealt with in a timely manner.