The Customs authority has announced that new measures are being introduced on Western beach as part of its campaign to combat smuggling. The frontier fence at the beach has been reinforced with extra strands of barbed wire extending out to sea and hardened fences have been placed parallel to the wire. Officers from HM Customs will now also be stationed at the beach to carry out overt and covert operations, and a portacabin has been placed at the entrance to the beach for the use of officers.
As part of this campaign, a bill is also to be presented to the Gibraltar parliament to enable Customs officers to search premises which are licenced to sell tobacco without a warrant. Additional provisions will include making it an offence to assault, resist or obstruct officers and to give false information by signing any document in respect of the import or sale of cigarettes.
Chief minister Fabian Picardo has stressed that the government will continue to support Customs in their work to control the illicit trade in tobacco. “That means giving them the resources necessary and the legislative powers necessary when they seek that we should provide them with greater powers,” he said.
A few days ago plain-clothes Customs officers arrested five people on Western beach and seized a vehicle and 209 cartons of cigarettes. The officers chased three Spanish teenage boys as they ran along the beach to the frontier fence and two Spanish women were arrested for transporting the cigarettes. The haul of tobacco, worth approximately £4,000, was confiscated.