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Customs workers arrested


marciadottin, [email protected]

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – Detectives are searching for the masterminds of a major criminal ring who have been skilfully depriving Jamaica’s coffers of millions in customs duties.Seventeen persons, including customs brokers, truck drivers and wharf workers, were arrested Friday following a major operation at the Port of Kingston, and sections of the Corporate Area on Thursday night.Finance Minister Audley Shaw said the arrest of these persons, particularly those employed by customs, does not come as a surprise.“I have warned continuously that we are going to close the doors to corruption at the Customs Department. I warned that we would arrest people and lock them up because we are adopting a zero-tolerance approach to corruption at customs,” Shaw told The Gleaner.Commissioner of Customs Danville Walker said that the operation, which led to the seizure of washing machines, LCD and plasma televisions, refrigerators and electronic and stereo systems, may have cost the country more than $150 million (BDS$3.5 million) in customs duties.“. . . We have followed the containers and the distribution network to get to all the players,” Walker said.Customs officials were alerted to the scam after they discovered disparities between the arrival and release documentation and duties paid for a number of containers housed at the ports. Further checks uncovered that 30 containers had been illegally removed since November 2009.Police investigations led to the discovery of two drop-off points in the Kingston 10 area. Premises in the area were searched and revealed five containers of uncustomed appliances.Walker described the activities as a conspiracy and said that the workers exploited their intimate knowledge of the port and customs system.“Our records have also indicated that all containers were scanned with no anomalies noted,” said Walker.Meanwhile, Walker has said that the effect of uncustomed goods being sold in the marketplace could be devastating for the economy. (Jamaica Gleaner)

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