A PERSON who fell off a speedboat trying to escape Customs officers at sea was rescued and charged with smuggling offences.

Customs officers also picked up 150 cartons of cigarettes that dropped into the sea and arrested five others who were in the area of the Small Boats Marina.

The incident occurred last night when officers arrived at the scene of the Small Boats Marina by Coaling Island.

The five individuals were arrested by the land crew suspected of loading a fast launch with tobacco.

Two patrol boats then got into a high-speed chase at sea with a small inflatable speedboat.

As the suspected smugglers tried to shake off their pursuers, the passenger was knocked off the boat by the sudden changes in direction.

The Customs officers then saved the man from the bay although the inflatable boat managed to escape into Spain.

“This incident is another reminder of the risks taken by the smugglers engaged in this illicit activity,” said a spokesperson for Gibraltar Customs.

“It also shows the difficult and dangerous scenarios that officers find themselves bravely working in, both on land and at sea.”

Tobacco smuggling has been a common way for La Linea families to make money in an area of high unemployment.

The COVID-19 pandemic further increased the difficulties of making money as many Gibraltar Campo businesses have had to shut down.

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