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Customs, Police Work Closely At Ports: Das

Customs, Police Work Closely At Ports: Das
The yacht Shenanigan that was docked at the Denarau Marina where illicit drugs, firearms and ammunition were allegedly found by customs officers.
June 27
10:00 2018

Fiji Police and custom officers of the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) work very closely at Fiji’s border.

“FRCS takes the operational and legislative lead to screen and search people, goods and craft; and if illicit items are located then Fiji Police come in to achieve enforcement outcomes,”  chief executive officer Visvanath Das said.

Mr Das spoke on the responsibility of Fiji Police and customs in screening drugs, firearms and ammunition at the ports of entry in the country.

“While we may be looking at different sides of the same coin, Fiji Police gather evidence for prosecutions while Customs gather intelligence to profile for the next illicit event.

 

On alert

Mr Das said Customs officers were on high alert with the screening process as yachts entered Denarau. “The entry and clearance of vessels entering  Denarau are generally undertaken by officers from Lautoka and intelligence screening by FRCS officers highlighted the fact that the vessel posed a high risk to the border. Appropriate action was taken to mitigate this risk,” he said.

Mr Das said the FRCS had a very good relationship with the national and international law enforcement counterparts in the mitigation of risks movement across the border.

 

Information Sharing

“Through information sharing and networking amongst our respective agencies and other stakeholders we are able to then run profiles to determine whether a yacht and persons pose the greatest risks. In requiring a search of the vessel we have a strong collaboration relationship with the Fiji Navy collectively we maintain a good knowledge of the maritime environment,” he said.

 

dedication unit

“Of course we have a dedicated Maritime Compliance Unit based in Suva whose purpose is to provide specialist search capability assistance across Fiji.

“Within our Border Division we have a Drug Enforcement Unit whose sole purpose is to identify risks associated with the likelihood of illicit drugs, undeclared currencies, firearms and so on in moving across our borders and to develop intelligence for our frontline staff. This is to provide both proactive and reactive investigative support. We are continuing to refine our risk targeting ability not just in the maritime environment but also cargo and passengers.”

Mr Das said the FRCS would continue to work with customs partners in New Zealand and Australia to ensure best practice processes and procedures were followed.

Fiji, he said has a large coastline to monitor for illegal activities due to the nature of the geography.

“With that, the FRCS works very closely with many laws enforcement agencies both domestically and Internationally to ensure it achieved as much coverage as possible,” he said. Mr Das said not only did the FRCS worked with Law enforcement agencies, they also worked closely with Port and Marina owners or Operators across Fiji whereby information was shared.

He said the (FRCS) was rolling out a coast watch framework whereby the public was encouraged to be eyes and ears and to provide information to customs in relation to suspicious maritime yacht activity.

“Sea Ports are similar to other entry points for goods, and people and the majority of goods, craft and people crossing Fiji’s border are legitimate therefore it is customs purpose to identify those that are involved in illicit activity and facilitate those who are genuine,” he said.

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