Customs bag three suspect smugglers in three days

| 23/07/2018 | 31 Comments

(CNS): The Customs Department arrested three people in separate suspected smuggling attempts over three days last week, as the new customs declaration systems kick in, freeing officers to focus on intelligence-led busts. The first interception of a suspect smuggler happened on Thursday, 19 July, at the Airport Post Office, when a 24-year-old local man collected a parcel. The parcel was declared as supplements but customs officers became suspicious of the package and discovered a controlled drug inside when they opened it, though officials have not identified the specific narcotic.

The man was arrested for suspicion of smuggling and importation of controlled drugs. When his car was searched following that arrest, officers also found what is believed to be ganja.

The next day (Friday, 20 July) at Owen Roberts International Airport, a 43-year-old Caymanian woman arriving on Cayman Airways flight from Kingston, Jamaica, was arrested after officers found two packages of what was believed to be ganja in her luggage.

The woman had collected her bags and exited the Customs Arrivals Hall through the green channel, but officers there became suspicious and referred her for a thorough examination. She was presented with a Customs Declaration Form and given a last chance to make an honest declaration. When officers searched the bags, the drugs were found and she was arrested. 

Then on Saturday, customs officers profiling passengers from a United Airlines flight from Dulles, Washington DC, became suspicious of a man exiting through the green channel. He was also given a final opportunity to make an honest declaration before his luggage was x-rayed and searched, and an undisclosed quantity of ganja was discovered in his bags. The 22-year-old American man was arrested for the importation and possession of ganja.

Assistant Collector of Customs Gidget Powell, who is in charge of the airport operations, noted that the recent policy change removes the requirement for inbound passengers to complete and sign a customs declaration form, unless they have exceeded their CI$350 allowance or other established allowances for alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco.

This is to facilitate a smoother and efficient flow of passengers and baggage through the Customs Arrivals Hall at the Owen Roberts International Airport. But Powell warned that customs officers are now focused on possible greater national security threats with an intelligence-led risk management approach at all Cayman Islands border controls.

“It’s very important for travellers to be aware that entering the customs green channel will be considered to be a declaration that the passenger has nothing to declare,” Powell said. “When customs officers on duty have the opinion that a particular passenger is not being honest about the declaration or intends to commit criminal offences, the person will be referred to secondary for a more thorough examination. Any passenger found to be in breach of our laws could face arrest and prosecution for criminal offences.”

The investigations continue into each case but it is not clear if any charges have been brought yet and whether the individuals have been bailed or not.

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Category: Crime, Customs

Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    soooo…when are they gonna catch the big guys??????? we all know all criminal organizations have a top guy? oh…oh my…i forgot…..thanks!????

  2. Anonymous says:

    They need to legalize pot and move the allowance up to $500. Think about people buying a baby stroller! That right there is is about $150 for a decent one.

    • Anonymous says:

      First of all, it’s not called ‘pot’ in the Cayman Islands. This is not the 60’s hippy era. Secondly, the item isn’t the concern. One person could buy baby products for $500 while another could buy $450 worth of potato chips for their mini-mart. They’re both needed for survival and per Government requirement, they both need to pay duty on the over-the-limit amount.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I will preface what I have to say in that I travel a lot and have dealt with some very professional customs and immigration officers but there are some that still feel that power and rudeness is the best way to handle people.

    Tonight my little boy and I went through the Customs area after arriving on the American Airlines flight from Miami. He and I had been on vacation for two weeks and with the exception of a few toys and some household toiletries valued around US$100 we had nothing to declare as all was within the CI$700 limits allowed by law

    My understanding was that if one was within the limits that there was no need for a declaration formed to be filled out. We collected our bags and went to the green line where the most ill-mannered man was standing their demanding our declaration forms. I explained to him and showed him the blank declaration form that I had in my shirt pocket and told him that I was under the impression that I no longer had to fill it out if I was in limits. He then said to me, how am I supposed to know how much you bought if you haven’t’ declared it, go see the officer…He then pointed to a lady officer who was sitting alone by the roped off area.

    I go to her and she again asks me for my declaration and I explained to her again that I was under the impression that I didn’t need to fill it out if I was in limits…Believe it or not she says the same thing that the other officer said, How am I supposed to know what you have if you haven’t declared it…I lost it and asked her why don’t they just ask everyone to fill out the form as I had plenty of time to fill it out on the plane.. So I started filling out my form while she opens and goes through all of the dirty stink clothes after two weeks of traveling.. As I am writing down the couple of things we had bought she says…it’s okay go ahead……Reallly!!! I packed up my bags and left the hall. absolutely pissed.When I got outside my son looks at me and says Dad she was laughing at you when we left…What an impression and how unprofessional!!

    Again another half assed policy put in place to assist the public and apparently these Customs officers who have had their power taken away believe that they should still in some way bend the new law in order to harass the general public and keep doing exactly what the are doing before…

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s terrible and I was also under the assumption that you don’t have to fill it out now! I’m traveling next month so I would preferred to know what I need to do because I will be coming back with stuff but everything will be under the limits.

      That’s terrible you were treated that way, I would say call and complain but nothing ever happens when you do.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was away last week and wasn’t sure about whether a form was needed, so filled one out on the plane just in case. When I went through the green line, they told me I didn’t need a form…

    • Anonymous says:

      We came back from Miami Sunday and were under the limit. I filled out the form anyway. The officer in the green line asked us if we had anything to declare – we said yes but no because it was under the limit. He asked if we had receipts and we did. He sent us to the roped off area as well. There the women was surprised we got sent there and looked at our receipts and finally just let us go through. Fill out the form and keep your receipts if you want to avoid headaches.

      • Anonymous says:

        What you say makes sense if you don’t want to be hassled but why change the policy and then still make you fill out the forms?

      • Anonymous says:

        It is apparent that this is an issue that is continuing to happen and clearly not what the law intended. Either that or the way the law was given to the general public is completely wrong and should be re-written or passengers should be told that they need to fill out he form just in case they are asked for it which in my opinion is absolute rubbish.

    • Anonymous says:

      I had the same thing happen to me as well. I don’t think the Customs officers understand the the new law and until the folks in charge give them the proper training, they may as well revert to having everyone fill out the forms as usual.

      These officers particularly since they are front line personnel need to be sent to get proper training in customer service and how to treat people without coming across so impolite and rude. I have on occasion been searched in the USA and never once was I ever made to feel as if I was a criminal.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The declaration form was always a legal contract atesting that the individual/family was within their allowances. HM Customs have always had the right to verify the attestation and apply consequences…glad it’s finally happening.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A world class civil service. Thank You.

  6. Anonymous says:

    To all you Custom officers out their, job well done keep up the good work.

  7. Anonymous says:

    They were given declaration forms and didn’t write down that they had drugs, lol. What did they expect???

    “We shall give you one last chance to declare the illegal drugs you have, by writing them on this here form!”

  8. Anonymous says:

    Good work customs!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well done. Looking forward to the report(s) of a resident being arrested for importing items over their allowance.

    • Anonymous says:

      You should know by now certain people are off-limits, they sail through as if there were no Customs check. Customs primarily harass small-fry. As part of their unofficial training they are told who to lay off of.

      When and if ganja becomes legal they’ll have nothing to do except maybe arrest a few tourists for importing a bullet or two, but they’ll still be harassing resident plebs just for kicks.

  10. Anon. says:

    Would be interesting to know how many they stopped going through the green channel who truly had nothing to declare or was below the $350 limit.

    Otherwise the new policy is useless.

  11. Juniper says:

    PHEW!! Thank goodness the devil’s lettuce was denied entry to this God loving country. What a great allocation of governments assets! I’m sure the highly paid and well lead ranks of customs will continue to protect us from the global pandemic which is legalized cannabis. I’m just so very grateful that more time and effort isn’t spent on child molesters and armed robberies and our competent leaders continue to protect us from the deadly cannabis bush! What would ever happen to this noble and upstanding country if we allowed this wicked demon onto our shores!

  12. Anonymous says:

    An insatiable demand for a natural plant, while we allow tobacco to permeate our borders. The most dangerous part about cannabis is being caught with it, it seems.

    They are convinced that it will ruin your life if you smoke it, but in fact, only a doritos bag is ruined in the process. Your life is ruined especially when they fail to enforce the border, allow pounds of it to get by, and find you with a gram of it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    legalize it!


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