Crack down on smugglers

| 16/11/2011

shipping_containers.jpg(CNS): The government is hoping that an amendment to the customs law will help in the fight against crime as it is designed to clamp down on smugglers of drugs and guns as well as people attempting to avoid paying duty on imported goods. The change increases the existing fine for people who open containers earmarked for customs checks before an official inspects the cargo from $1000 to $100,000. The premier told his legislative colleagues on Wednesday that the increased fine would serve as a better deterrent to people who broke the seals on containers before they were inspected.

McKeeeva Bush said the law was important as all sorts of “evil contraband”, including ganja, cocaine and other drugs as well as guns, were getting on to the island and those who were opening the containers had to only face a $1000 penalty.

Bush noted that the in the average 40-foot container coming into the island contained some $30-40,000 worth of dutiable goods. He pointed out that those who had not declared the full contents or had imported drugs and guns when their container was selected for inspection were the ones most likely to break the seal, as the risk of a $1000 fine over the possibility of being caught with serious contraband was not a sufficient deterrent.

The law was supported by the opposition benches and received a majority when it was passed but the PPM’s former leader took the opportunity to ask government to look into the problem of contraband that also leaves the island.

Kurt Tibbetts said that for many years there had been significant concerns that stolen goods were shipped off island in consolidated containers among the various genuine goods people sent to overseas family. He said the containers going out were rarely, if ever, checked and there was no requirement to list contents. He said it was quite obvious, given that the police recover less than 1% of stolen goods, that most of it left the island.

“Where do all the stolen goods go? Do people really believe that it is all fenced here?” he asked rhetorically.

Tibbetts urged government to find a way to monitor what leaves Cayman closely as well as what comes in, as he said the problem had gone on too long with no one doing anything about it, even though the authorities were constantly saying they were long aware of the problem.

The first elected member for George Town also urged that the examination of containers by customs include those who have duty waivers to ensure their containers contain only the goods allowed to be waived and nothing else.

The premier stated that Tibbetts had raised some good points about the export of stolen goods and that seeing how government had spent some $4 milllion on a new X-ray machine for law enforcement officials, they could use it to check things leaving. But Bush criticised the former Leader of Government Business, saying that while stolen goods was certainly a problem for Cayman, the issue had nothing to do with the bill up for debate,  which was about stopping all the drugs and guns coming in.

He accused the PPM member of trying to paint a picture that all of the problems of the world had started inMay 2009. But the opposition did not need to tell government about stolen goods, Bush said, and if they were serious about it why had they had not done something.

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Category: Crime

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Have  you Caymanians, ever notice that the only ammedments to the law, the Cayman Islands Government passed, was to dig money out of our pockets.

    What happen to the ammendment to the Costom law to stop the thieves from ripping off Caymanian tools, equipment and .


    Where else in the World can one load containers in  ones front yard, then call the trucking company to haul it off to the port and ship it off wherever, without any custom inspection and no proof of sale  Invoice.


  2. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if the duties collected can be used toward getting a proper container scanning device because the current system is a waste of time and money when a majority of the containers are legitimate business and law abiding citizens who declare their goods and pay their duties yet we suffer because of the poor system.

  3. Church Hound says:

    Including the Churches whose members use them to import personal and private goods so they can avoid paying taxes.


  4. Anonymous says:

    If there is a concern with a shipment container arriving on island it should be identified and searched at the port – not waiting until it gets to someone's house. Once again Customs is relying on fines for revenue, it's time a proper Customs Task Force is formed and they get off thier lazy A** and conduct well rounded searches!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Definately a need to check containers going out. Homes are being robbed on a daily basis and the robberies are barely reported, all police do is take a statement and thats it. The robberies will continue as there is no reason for them to stop.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Why put a seal? Why not put a lock? Duhh…

    • Anonymous says:

      I have never understood why our laws do not include the inspection by customs for containers being exported from the Islands.  Imagine how many stolen goods have left this Island for export . It is a well known fact that this is happening here if you are paying attention.  Why do you think so many containers are kept inside a residence yard then loaded at night time on boats docked around the Islands. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    A complete waste of the time of the House. People are NOT bringinging in guns and drugs and then taking them out before Customs Officers arrive.

    Don't Customs Officers have the option to open the containers at the Cargo Distribution Centre? instead of giving them to the customer?

    Wouldn't it be easier for a team of Customs Officers to inspect containers at one site rather than driving all over Cayman to inspect individual containers?

    Why don't they make an arrest, or is it a different person bringing in a shipment of guns and drugs each week?

    Have we really solved the problem by having them pay $100,000 for a container load of drugs instead of $1000?

    Where did we get these morons  who sit in the LA?

    I'll bet that a check of Customs records for the last 5 years showing who opened containers and why will show that it contained plants or some semi-perishable items than would have been completely useless if they had waited another 24 hours for an inspector to show up.

    People have been opening containers because it is better to pay $1000 and save their shipment rather than just pay the duty and lose everything.

    Well done McKeeva, you just probably managed to get rid of a few other businesses.

    I can't wait to see how much the Botanic Park will charge for dead mango trees next year.

    If anyone isreally bringing in guns and drugs, they probably have more rolls of that "CUSTOMS – DO NOT TEAR" sealing tape than the Customs Department has.


    • Anonymous says:

      So how will opening a 40 ft container at the dock help them see what’s is at the back of it? The officers have to be there to watch the containers being onloaded. Once again people writing fullishness without thinking about what they are saying?

  8. Anonymous says:

    In addition to inspections and scanning, a heavypenalty is appropriate.

    The majorityof the citizens and residents are law abiding and pay there share of duties,.

    The problem with the minority needs to be addressed and I support this proposal.Glad to see that boths sided in the house have voted for it.I hope issues facing our country are shown the same approach.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This law like so many others will remain meaningless unless it is enforced, then and only then will it matter.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Don't see how it's possible in the first place to acess containers before customs