Customs and Border Control made 11 arrests in first month

The Customs and Border Control arrested 11 people for contraband, issued 12 fines for declaration violations, and refused entry to nine people for various offenses during the first month of operations after being merged from the Immigration and Customs Departments this year, according to the organization.

The series of law enforcement actions began Feb. 2, when Customs officers found a loaded firearm while X-raying lost baggage at Owen Roberts International Airport.

“The baggage containing the firearm had arrived on a Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta, Georgia, and was destined for a passenger that was on a cruise ship, which was en route to the George Town harbor,” Customs and Border Control stated. “The firearm was subsequently cleared and made safe by CBC officers.”

On Feb. 3, officers arrested the cruise ship passenger the gun was addressed to, and transported the 67-year old female to the Prison Detention Centre. That case is ongoing in court.

Two days later, Customs officers stopped a man leaving the territory at the airport for a mandatory baggage inspection, and arrested him after they found ammunition.

On Feb. 10, Customs officers arrested another man departing Cayman from the airport, also for ammunition.

That same day, officers also arrested a man arriving from Florida after they detected a rubber capsule containing a dark oil-like substance, which later tested positive for ganja, according to the Customs and Border Control.

On Feb. 17, 18 and 20, officers arrested three men in separate incidents, all who were departing the territory from the airport with ammunition on them.

Throughout last month, Customs and Border Control officers also refused entry to nine people for offenses such as making a false statement upon arrival, failing to have proper travel documents, or being a prohibited immigrant.

Additionally, the Customs and Border Control issued 12 fines for making a false declaration of goods.

“The seizure of this type of contraband, detection of immigration offences and breaches of the law are excellent examples of outstanding work by our CBC officers. As we pursue those involved in border control crimes through targeted enforcement and investigative action, we will continue to increase our capabilities through enhanced training and appropriate equipment,” Customs and Border Control Director Charles Clifford said of his organization’s early performance.

“Our focus is on intercepting those passengers and importers with criminal intent, or who are in breach of our laws, and we are simultaneously facilitating legitimate passengers, baggage and cargo,” he added.

This year’s law enforcement actions come on the heels of what Mr. Clifford painted as the “most successful year of enforcement and border control in 2018.” According to Customs, the department brought in $3,151,738 last year, the most revenue ever collected at Owen Roberts International Airport.

Last year, officers arrested 63 people for various drug and weapon offenses. They also refused entry to 126 people, the most since 2005 and almost double the 68 people who were refused entry in 2017.

“Due to greater reliance on intelligence-led approaches, such as trend analysis and information exchange with our security and law enforcement partners, officers on the frontline refused entry to the largest number of persons since 2005,” Mr. Clifford stated. “We have to be ever vigilant, paying attention to more than just the obvious to ensure we tackle illegal immigration and activities, enforce trade compliance and enhance public safety and border security.”

The officers also conducted a total of 46 joint operations with the Department of Immigration and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. According to Customs and Border Control, this resulted in several hundred pounds of drugs and multiple firearms seized by officers, as well as more than $250,000 in cash suspected to be used in illegal activities.