AFM intercepts yacht with around 2 m cigarettes onboard
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Earlier today, the sailing yacht, ‘Gently,’ was intercepted by the AFM Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) P61 some 20NM south of Malta within Malta’s contiguous zone.
The AFM said that the craft had aroused the suspicion of AFM personnel and, following pre-boarding questioning, an AFM Boarding Team went aboard the yacht where some 200 boxes containing around 2 million cigarettes were discovered.
“The 3 persons aboard the yacht, 1 Maltese national, a Libyan and an Egyptian, were not in a position to provide a credible account of the provenance of the cigarettes and their activities at sea. So the decision was taken to escort the craft to Maritime Squadron Base, Haywharf, for further investigations,” AFM said.
Given the nature of the case, the AFM immediately informed the relevant Customs and Police authorities who are now working together to investigate the case with a view to ascertaining whether it represents an attempt to contravene local laws and regulations. Police and Customs officers have been conducting their activities at Haywharf with the full support of AFM personnel.
The almost 2 million cigarettes in question, with a value of in excess of €400,000 have been seized pending further enquiries. The AFM said it is providing assistance to transport the seized tobacco to a secure location.
Suppression of illegal trafficking at sea is one of the constabulary duties of the AFM’s Maritime Squadron and is supported by air and land elements from the AFM itself as well as close cooperation with other law-enforcement agencies.
Photograph – AFM.