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Customs Seize Luxury Cars–Another Smuggling Ring Uncovered

Comptroller of Customs Charles Turner yesterday again denied that he or any other top ranking Customs official are involved in a stolen vehicle racket uncovered last month during a joint operation between customs and police.

Mr. Turner and members of his executive team held a press conference yesterday to announce that three high end brand vehicles stolen in the United States and smuggled into The Bahamas were seized by authorities over the holiday weekend.

The comptroller did not reveal much about the investigation nor the operation itself only that it was again a joint operation with the Customs Department and the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).

Last month, a similar joint operation uncovered a stolen vehicle racket in which seven luxury vehicles collectively worth an estimated $200,000 that were smuggled into the country, were seized.

More than 1,000 rounds of ammunition were also found during that same operation.
To date, only one person has been charged in connection with that matter.

Last week, businessman Edward Laing, 69, appeared in a Magistrate’s Court where he was charged with nine counts of possession of ammunition with intent to supply and nine counts of importation along with a count of making a false declaration to Customs.

Laing has since been granted bail in the amount of $10,000.

Since last month’s operation, officials have been tightlipped about the investigation fueling public speculation that some prominent Bahamians including senior Customs officials may be implicated in the matter – a charge Mr. Turner denied.

“If you have any evidence to suggest that any executive in this Customs Department is involved in this smuggling, we would like for you to present that evidence so I can hand it over to the police,” Mr. Turner told reporters yesterday.
He also acknowledged that authorities believe that this illegal operation is a part of a sophisticated ring which goes beyond stolen vehicles.

“There is also the smuggling of beers, tobacco products and of course firearms and ammunition,” he said.

Mr. Turner said it is not believed that the owners of the vehicles were aware that they had purchased stolen vehicles but he did caution people making purchases of high end vehicles.

“Individuals should check with the Customs to ensure that the vehicle was not stolen and that the proper Customs declarations were made,” he said. “They should also check with police who will be able to indicate whether these vehicles are in fact stolen.”

The matter is under investigation by police.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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