On February 3, customs officers at Black Knight, near Famagusta, discovered a hidden compartment built into a panel van that contained meat and a meat hook.
The van was immediately seized by officers at the crossing point and the driver of the vehicle now faces a hefty fine and the possible permanent loss of his vehicle.
This seizure followed hot on the heels of a discovery of an illegal amount of tobacco that an individual was attempting to bring across from the north in a crudely-fashioned box that was built over the glove box of his car, and according to UK Team Manager, David Harrison, this method is not uncommon.
“People will try to bring things through by any means necessary and vehicle adaptations is one way that they attempt to do so,” said Harrison. “In the case of the man smuggling meat, our officers noticed the compartment during a vehicle search and they were quickly able to open and make the discovery inside.”
But he did also reveal that some would-be smugglers make more effort than others. “In the case of the tobacco ‘smuggler’, he had built a wooden box over his glove box to hide the tobacco and it was easily spotted by our officers.”
Hundreds of thousands
Customs officers at the crossing points within the SBAs – Pergamos and Black Knight – saw more than 200,000 vehicles and close to 400,000 individuals cross between north and south last year ,and the challenge facing the team when it comes to smuggling and illegal crossings is not to be underestimated.
Harrison explained: “During the summer months when it is very busy, we see a lot of foot and vehicle traffic and we have to ensure that all those [people] crossing are not only entitled to do so but that they are adhering to the legal limits of goods they are...