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Jan 26, 2018

Customs Watches for Contraband Potatoes

The news makes regular reports on persons caught with uncustomed goods, usually contraband from the free zone and Mexico. Often these matters are settled by the department without a need to go to court or even arrest. But does the law change when the offenders are repeaters and occasionally flagrant violators? Comptroller of Customs Colin Griffith answered this as well as a question on how Customs will try to crack down on contraband potatoes, now that official licenses are no longer being granted in advance of the local harvest of nearly four million pounds due in February.

 

Colin Griffith

Colin Griffith, Comptroller of Customs and Excise

“We would look at cases favorably when it is the first offence, but thereafter, you could still have out-of-court settlement and there is no mitigation. The fine would not be reduced. Out-of-court settlement could result in mitigation of the fine and possibly where your vehicle is returned but if we recognize you as a habitual offender, we will take you to court where you will lose your vehicle or the mode of conveyance and also all the fines will be put on to you.  The Customs Department continues to have vigorous enforcement initiatives in the North; as a matter of fact, just recently, in October of last year, there was a donation from a local business house of two motor vehicles for the Customs Department based on the result of our enforcement initiatives. The situation with potato or any other contraband – it is our department that continues to function and as I mentioned in my speech we work very closely with all the other enforcement agencies. With agricultural produce, for Customs to have a very, very strong case we need to meet those goods being brought in illegally. If that doesn’t occur, we have to rely on the expertise of BAHA to determine whether those goods were grown locally or imported.”

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