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New challenges in the fight against smuggling at Cao Bang border

07:53 | 16/11/2019

VCN – When the Customs force strengthens to manage cargo under the form of temporary import and re-export, new challenges of transporting goods to inland emerged at the area of Cao Bang border.

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A specialised online surveillance car of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department obstructed the access into the milestone 51. Photo: T.Bình

Notes from a "border patrol" trip

Deploying the plans and directions of the General Department of Vietnam Customs on strengthening management of temporary import and re-export activities, Cao Bang Customs Department and the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department have strengthened human resources and equipment to patrol, control and set up posts in key areas, which have a high risk of smuggling and illegal transport of goods across border.

The anti-smuggling and Investigation Department arranged nearly 10 customs officials (under to Northern Anti-smuggling Enforcement Unit - Unit 1 and Online Customs Supervision Division - Division 3) to control the area, which was increased twice - third times of the army. In particular, two specialised cars using for online surveillance of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department in the north were also transferred to Cao Bang border area.

One day at the end of October, we followed a specialised online surveillance car of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department to patrol the border area from Ban Gioc Waterfall (Trung Khanh district) to Ly Van border gate (Ha Lang district). This is a border line with high risk of smuggling and illegal transport of goods across borders. The route almost runs parallel and close to the Quay Son River, it also has a lot of natural dunes anddense trees in the middle of the river which are very convenient for smugglers to hide, conceal goods between the river between Vietnam and China. The travel in this area is very difficult with many potholes. Although it is a specialised vehicle of the anti-smuggling force, it also takes nearly one hour to travel 10 km. "That was a measure when the weather was normal, if it rains, I don't know how," a customs official of Unit 1 said.

We had just moved for a few minutes when there were signs of "pig birds" (people who are guards for smugglers) following us. The weather was cooler at the border at night. The difference in temperature between the car and the outdoors caused water droplets to roll down on the car window. On the road, the night was getting dark but "pig birds" is still following our car.

The members of the anti-smuggling force said the "pig birds" mainly used electric bicycles to follow the forces to cause less noise.

After several times of distracting, holding "pig birds" off, the driver unexpectedly drove straight down to the "Milestone 51" area (new milestones: 842, 843, 844) in Lung Da hamlet, Minh Long commune (Ha Lang district). It was nearly 12 o'clock. Right on the river bank, there were houses with metal roofing. In front of the porch of a house, a man sat crouched in the dark. Detecting an appearance of the force, the man hurriedly kicked the small fire and went away. "This was a 'pig bird' of realm in the field,"-the customs officials of the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department explained.

A few dozen metres away, in a small shack covered with a tarpaulin, there were three men sitting and grilling corn. Talking with us, they said they came from Ngan Son district (Bac Kan) to work as a porter but they had not worked yet so they set a fire to heat up.

Different from the silence still a few minutes before we were present, after the camera was turned on and signalled the operation light, more people appeared suddenly, including women and the elderly. Across the bank of the Quay Son River in China, a specialised vehicle of the competent force, with flashing lights on the roof of the vehicle, was parked opposite us.

Nearly 3:00 AM, an additional working group of the Customs Enforcement Unit (Cao Bang Customs Department) and the Border Guard went there to control the area. After a while, the competent force did not detected or arrest smugglers as well as illegally transport of goods in the "Milestone 51" area, the cars of competent forces continued to roll along the border roads to perform their duties.

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Goods which were gathered and prepared to transport illegally across border were seized by Ly Van Border Customs. Photo provided by Ly Van Border Customs.

"Disguises" from the temporary import and re-export goods?

After the Customs force has strengthened the management and control of temporary import and re-export activities, the volume of goods of this type transported to Cao Bang decreased sharply in recent times. The amount of backlogged goods in the area was about 1,000 containers, decreasing by about 50 percent compared to the peak period.

However, new challenges have been posted regarding the increase of goods transporting in inland to the Cao Bang border area. There have not been specific reports indicating the origin of this type of product, but some sources said that there were many establishments showing the goods were belonging to temporary import and re-export. At present, the subjects were opened under the form of "import for business "then moved from inland warehouse to the border because the goods are mainly frozen food such as beef, pork leg and offal.

Talking to reporters, a representative of the Technial Division (Cao Bang Customs Department) said: Besides strengthening the control of Vietnamese competent forces, the Chinese side also strengthened the management of goods under the form of temporary import and re-export and goods of border residents, increasing the traceability of goods. Therefore, the volume of goods re-exported to China via Cao Bang is decreasing in both quantity, type and arising the situation of backlogged goods at the border. Compared to the same period of 2018, the value of temporary import and re-export goods across the region has decreased by about 18 percent, especially since August.

"When there was a congestion situation in warehouses and yards in Cao Bang area, enterprises often opened declarations to transfer border gates to other provinces, causing difficulties in the management of Customs authority," representatives of the Technical Division shared.

Facing this situation, the leader of Cao Bang province directed competent forces to facilitate the export of eligible products, while strengthening management. Cao Bang Customs Department cooperated with the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department and the Border Guards to detect and prevent acts of smuggling and illegal transport of goods across borders.

However, with current developments, to manage effectively, it required more strong involvement of authorities of border communes and districts in Cao Bang, especially local police and market management forces.

By Thái Bình/Thanh Thuy