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Joint Operation leads to Seizure of Smuggled Cigarettes and Controlled Gas

A joint operation conducted by the Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS), Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF), and Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) led to the successful seizure of undeclared cigarettes and controlled gas on a flagged fishing vessel.

Cigarettes are subject to excise duty on import to Fiji. If smuggled, Fiji is deprived of revenue earned through duties and taxes. Smuggling also deprives the country of revenue that would otherwise be used to fund vital public services such as schools, hospitals and infrastructure.

Following the identification of the fishing vessel for rummage (search), the team inspected the cargo and discovered 98 gross of cigarettes and 4pcs of controlled gas (R597A) that had not been declared. The undeclared were seized and detained. The controlled gas was handed over to the Ministry of Environment for further action. This prompt response reflects the commitment towards enforcing customs laws and ensuring compliance with maritime regulations.

FRCS is determined to spare no effort in combating the smuggling of illegal goods into Fiji and is clamping down on all suspicious and unauthorised movement of vessels, crews and cargo at maritime and coastal waters.

The recent joint operation is a significant demonstration of the effectiveness of the Seaport Border Control Vessel Search training that was held two weeks ago. The training was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under its Integrated Border Management Project and funded by the Government of Japan. The aim was to equip the enforcement agencies with the necessary skills and knowledge to enhance maritime security to combat illicit activities within Fiji’s sea borders.

This successful operation underscores the importance of interagency cooperation in maintaining the integrity of our sea borders and safeguarding our nation against potential threats.

The collaboration between FRCS, BAF and MSAF in this joint operation reflects the ongoing efforts to strengthen maritime security in Fiji.

FRCS is urging the members of the public to report any sightings of suspicious activity in relation to offload from foreign vessels to local vessels at sea or at our maritime domain and play a part in disrupting such activities. They can us on 324300 or 1326 or email info@frcs.org.fj.

A stern warning is reiterated to those intending to commit these crimes as they will face full prosecution under the law.

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