Cigarette smugglers arrested

| 21/05/2014

(CNS): Two women and one man have been arrested and are expected to be charged with related offences in connection with a cigarette smuggling ring that HM customs officials targeted earlier this month. Officers conducted specific targeted operations during the first two weeks in May at the Owen Roberts International Airport dealing with custom duty evasion and smuggling. One three-day operation resulted in the arrest of three people, two of whom are airline employees, and the seizure of several cartons of duty free cigarettes intended for the local black market. Collector of Customs Samantha Bennett said that the department was aware of a growing trend of smuggling involving duty-free cigarettes and has identified the varying techniques used.

“These cigarettes will eventually end up on the black market, but we will make every effort to stop those criminals who seek to make money from smuggling of goods, whether the goods are legal or illegal,” Bennett added.

Initially in this particular operation a 21-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man, both believed to be employed by airlines, were arrested. Then, as the operation continued into the week, another 35-year-old woman was arrested upon her arrival in the Cayman Islands. All three are now on bail while investigations are continuing but officials were expecting to bring charges in the case.

Anyone with Information relating to this type of crime is asked to contact HM Customs’ tip-line on 1-800-534-8477 or CrimeStoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It needs to be brought to Cayman Airways attention, how their system is being abused at the Florida check in counters i was in line waiting to be checked in with my EXTRA bags, which i was happy to pay for, when another person in front of me said to the agent she was checking in these two peaces for capt. so n so, and the agent took them, i could see the other agent was upset, as they said this person is always doing this and not travelling on the flight, this is why CAL will not be any better off tooooo many users. justsaying!!!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good start, however what about all those canoes that come in from other places full of contraband, when we going to see more arrests there? Thats where the real stuff is happening. Makes you wonder if the slashing of the fuel budget for the marine police was done by people in any way connected with such enterprises…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sorry to say this but ….

    At the rate the cost of living is going in Cayman …. you can expect more hustling within th public sectors and some private.  this is not strange to no country that is experiencing poverty.  Yes i said it …POVERTY.   Cost is goig up on everything evey day bout wages/salaris stand still for over 5 Years now… e.g. gas prices, CUC, Water Authority all go up almost monthly it seems.   You do the maths…

    i can assure you that if i know a cutoms officer that will save me a buck or two by smuggling… im gamed. cause i got kids to feed, to school and to shelter. 

    And i do have a good paying job… but still cant meet my monthly expenses! so go and Google it…. Smuggling wil be huge here in cayman and so wll Crime!!!

    next crime that will soon be introduce is Hitman and Kidnapping to the Weathy ones reeping profits from the high prices.




  4. Anonymous says:

    Keep targeting the known smugglers and duty evaders and leave the rest of us alone instead of treating everyone who comes through the Customs line like criminals.  There are many who Customs Officers KNOW are smuggling or evading duties and then there are suspicious persons but ALL who pass through the line are searched and questioned as though they are doing something wrong….This holds up the lines unnecessarily for residents and visitors alike and results in overtime for the Officers but I guess if it suits them that is all they care about.

  5. WalkerRanger says:

    Wow. You busted a couple airline empolyees smuggling a few cartons of ciggys. Value of what it small. Charged them with a crime taking up police, court time and expense. Again customs is going after the little frys. Bust some drugs, MJ and cocaine and stop haraassing people for evading under a $1000 in duty.

    • Anonymous says:

      LOL. So upholding the law is "harrassing" people because there may be much bigger crimes out there? You are part of the problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are the perfect example of the hypocrisy of the Cayman Islands. If the police do not capture a criminal then the comments are all about how useless law enforcement are here. This story is about how law enforcement DID capture some criminals and you are suggesting that they stop "harassing" people. Idiot

  6. Anonymous says:

    When you raise duty, you create a black market.

    When you make something illegal, you create crime.

    The trick is to find the right balance. And studying the crime rates will guide you there.

    Simply enforcing a law is not going to help.


    • Anonymous says:

      CI Govt? You lost them at "study". That'll take up too much of their free time.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Cigarettes for travelers  is only duty free within your allowance of I think one carton per traveller per trip. They are also only duty free if for personal consumption/use and not for resale. You also need a license to sell cigarettes.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Good job Customs department, Border Security at its best.  Keep up the good works now you remind me of the Australian Border Security series.  Immigration is next, maybe the Customs department could have a joint operation training session and show immigration how to get better results.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations, Customs. Under the leadership of Ms Bennett you guys are doing some great things.

    If Ms Bennett can crack down on the Cayman Airways employees walking through customs like their free flight equals duty free, she will deserve a gold medal. Let’s face it, whether you are paying $300 for a flight or just $30 for the taxes only, no one can really make it in and out of Miami without exceeding their allowance.

    Maybe Ms Bennett could also consider incentives for the Customs Officers, such as a commission. Set a minimum value of collections each (equivalent at least to current collections) and anything over and over that they get 10%.

    Lastly, for those of us who happily pay duty trip after trip, please speed up the collection process. I should not be penalized for being honest on my customs declaration by having to weight half hour to pay. Let me swipe my credit card at the door!

    • Anonymous says:

      I wish Ms. Bennett would add more Customs "cashiers" at the airport so that we truthful people who are are honest and willing to pay our duty dont have to stand in line for 30 minutes plus just to pay ! As was the case last Sunday night…sad when honesty has a cost !! Pathetic but am I to expect anything different after 20 years ? Even the Custons Officers were shaking their heads…

    • Anonymous says:

      HM Customs employees are already being paid to do their job.  We needn't add any other incentive which might reward them by harassing law-abiding residents and visitors and detain arrivals in lengthy Customs cues when they could otherwise be out the door and on their way.

    • Anon says:

      You don't 'weight' for half hour. You 'wait' for half hour. 

    • Anonymous says:

      And also keep a lookout for the customs officer who allows his girlfriend, family and freinds safe travels through cutoms.

      • Anonymous says:

        I have a good friend who works for customs and I never pick his line out of respect.

    • ShoG says:

      I was just about to say the same thing 🙁 Writing so much and he or she doesn’t know the difference between weight and wait! Further more the “Free Flights” isn’t free taxes needs to be paid and the employees of Cayman Airways do not make anything so travel benefits are the only perks these persons receive working there. Most of you speak about things you have no clue about and its sad. The majority of CAL employees do not even make $2200 a month which is way below what’s needed to get through the month based on increasing expenses so if the company wants to give them travel benefits what business is it of yours. So annoyed with this “Free Flights” statements most of you don’t even know the inner workings of that poorly managed airline who pays persons less than what is needed to sustain themselves so of course these people will take chances. Their whole management team is made up of uneducated persons who have been there for ages doing nothing. So there will be more of these kind of occurrences in the future. The way that person speaks wouldn’t be shocked if you were on the Cayman Airways Management Team or holding a senior post in Government aka Uneducated and lack of basic skills.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am probably just stupid.

    if cigarettes are duty free how can one be charged with evading duty?

    Maybe it contravenes another of those hitherto unknown Euro conventions that does (not) apply to the Cayman Islands.

    folks, brace yourselves for yet another trip through the magical looking glass of the CIG……

    • And Noter Ting says:

      Cigarettes Canberra purchased duty free at the Airport when leaving the country. You cant buy them duty free in a local store.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are only allowed a certain amount of tobacco duty free and you are only allowed to bring it into the country if the purpose of it is personal consumption.

      Use your brain here

    • Anonymous says:

      Must you be so obtuse!

    • Anonymous says:

      well, once again you are right. you do are what you called yousrself.

      duty free tobacco products  are  available at the duty free stores inside the airport. if you buy it at duty free price and smuggle it into the country them what you are doing is?????? ilegal, avoiding the payment of duty. get it?

    • Anonymous says:

      Thre-are duty free allowances up to 200 cigarettes, in this case I'd imagine there are quite a few hundred  above this limit. Typically there are 20 cigarettes to a pack, 10 packs to a carton which equals 200 and CNS reported several cartons.  Effective 2012 import duty per package of 20 cigarettes is $4.20; import duty on cigars is 102% the value of the cigar,  duty on chewing tobacco is $1.49 per pound.

      Hence the charges fo evading duty. I hope this helps.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cigarettes have never been duty free.

    • Anonymous says:

      Only a certain amount, say two cartons, is duty free. If you walk through with a suitcase full, say twelve cartons, then the first two are duty free and you need to pay duty on the next ten.

    • Anon says:

      I think you are allowed only 100 cigarettes duty free. 

    • Anonymous says:

      You can only bring in one carton of cigarettes per person duty free as part of your personal allowance, and only for personal use (i.e. not bringing it in for friends or family).

  11. Anonymous says:


  12. Anonymous says:

    Only if the government reduce the price for cigarette then it won’t be a problem smuggling. If people want to smoke then it is their choice and their problem. I have never smoke in my life.

    • Anonymous says:

      When people smoke they get cancer and then they expect government to pay their medical expenses.  The high duty is a way for governments all over the world to get back a little hit of what it costs them to pay smokers' hospital bills!

    • Anonymous says:

      The year is 2014: nobody should be smoking cigarettes anymore, knowing what is known.

      • Anonymous says:

        and nobody should be eating at BK or KFC and other "fast food" places, knowing what is known. Obesity and heart desease kill more peopl than smoking in 2014. Where are the duties and restrictions on those? and in a democracy where we pay for our own healthcare what right has government to legislate what I put in my own body if it effects no-one else?

      • Anonymous says:

        Indeed 07.52. And nobody in 2014 should be allowed to tell me what I can do with my own body if I want to, just as I can't tell you what to do with yours. Tell me, are you quite small, dark haired (brush over) with a ridiculous moustache and round glasses? Used to be a dictator in europe?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Good Job Keep it up.

  14. Anonymous says:

    That's what happens when you jack the duty up to a ridiculous level.

    • Anonymous says:

      nope, that happens when you are a thieve.

      public protest, meeting with th eelected members, hiring a lawyer is what happens when you dont agree with a gov policy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Which, funnly enough, is the major reason I quit 3 years ago (after smoking for 30). Damn I miss my best friend…


  15. Knot S Smart says:

    Remember folks if you dont pay your taxes the Customs Gestapo will get you…

    Wait… I thought we were a tax-free country…