gibraltar. The government of Gibraltar is to change the law so that anybody who is found to be in unauthorised possession of petrol containers will face harsher sentences which could even include life imprisonment.
The Bill, which was published on Wednesday, aims to amend the Petroleum Act. It states that the penalties for the offences regarding the amassing or transporting of petrol are to be substantially increased, and the offences are to be made indictable only.
The government has already changed the law once this year to make possession of fuel in large quantities a criminal offence, but despite this the number of people found to be in possession of large amounts of fuel has increased and there have been numerous cases in Gibraltar in recent weeks.
The full containers are often taken out to sea to fuel the boats used by drug traffickers who are travelling between North Africa and Spain.
On Twitter on Wednesday morning, chief minister Fabian Picardo said "We are changing the law to make possession of fuel canisters without consent (which we recently made a crime) punishable by prison sentences of up to life imprisonment. We will not tolerate Gibraltar being used as part of the logistics chain of the drug trade".
A statement from the Gibraltar government on the same day also referred to the dangers inherent in storing large amounts of volatile fuels. "If a vehicle carrying twenty fuel canisters were to explode, the loss of life, personal injuries and physical damage in Gibraltar would be enormous. The explosion would potentially result in devastation," it said.
The Royal Gibraltar Police force has welcomed this new legislation and the efforts to end this "iniquitous drugs trade".