CUSTOMS officers resisted attacks by suspected smugglers to seize 1,500 cartons of tobacco this morning.

A small speedboat was impounded after a chase in which officers were threatened and barged by other suspected criminals.

The officers were threatened by others after the boat-owners swam to shore and escaped to Spain.

“In the early hours of this morning while carrying out a routine patrol of BGTW, Officers from HM Customs Marine Section engaged in a chase of a suspect vessel loaded with tobacco,” said Gibraltar Customs.

“The vessel, a small speedboat approximately 5.5 metres in length, made numerous evasive manoeuvres before HMC Tango 1 was able to intercept it.”

37 2 2019
SEIZED: The speedboat used to transport the tobacco

Although the suspected smugglers escaped by land the Customs officers faced further violence when they boarded the speedboat loaded with cigarettes.

“Two other suspect vessels believed to be involved in tobacco activity tried to assist the small speedboat from making its escape,” the Customs revealed.

“When Customs Officers confiscated and boarded the small speedboat, the other two vessels rammed it and attacked the Officers, hitting an Officer on the shoulder.

“An individual on one of the vessels then threatened the Officers, making comments about a weapon and acting as if he had retrieved a firearm by pointing both his hands towards them.

“The two suspect vessels then attempted to ram HMC Seeker and HMC Tango 1, causing both suspect vessels to collide and one of the individuals to fall overboard.”

“The suspects managed to retrieve the individual from the water and made their escape into Spain.”

Investigations are continuing after this successful seizure, especially considering the amount of violence customs officers are subjected to in the pursuance of the law.

The seizure follows accusations by a senior police chief in Spain that he had not seen any reports of Gibraltar Customs stopping tobacco smuggling.

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