Saturday, 26 April 2014

Cat and Mouse Game as Tobacco Activity finds new routes out

No comment issue 3 from nocomment-gibraltar

Report - The battle against Tobacco smuggling has taken a new twist as small leisure boats have taken to smuggling from the area of Marina Bay/Western arm in what has been described as a "cat and mouse game" by officers from Customs. The vessels, small leisure boats, are known to be frequently entering Gibraltar without reporting their entry, loading with what is deemed as a legitimate quantity of tobacco, and then sailing to a near-by pier on the Spanish side of Western Beach where the tobacco is unloaded.
Core Photography photojournalist Stephen Ignacio captured moments in which three vessels entered and left Gibraltar waters and unloaded onto the Spanish piers in the mid afternoon. The vessels conducted their activities throughout a two hour period unchallenged.
The same vessels later in the afternoon entered Gibraltar waters from La Linea headed into Marina Bay and berthed. There the occupants, disembarked and were later seen loading bags (later found to be tobacco) onto the vessels. The vessel was subsequently stopped by Customs officers and police, who had been notified of their presence and searched for Tobacco.
Officials informed Core Photography that the vessels are known to frequently enter Gibraltar waters but have been found to be carrying a legal quantity of tobacco, forcing local law enforcement agencies to release the vessels and allow them to sail away. The vessels continue on their route and later unload their bags by the Spanish rocky groin constructed within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.
The increase in the frequency of the vessels comes after a clamp down on tobacco sales within estates in Gibraltar, an increase in blue zones which restricts the movement of tobacco above a certain quantity and a continued presence of customs officers along Eastern Beach and Western Beach, forcing smugglers onto other areas. As the Government clamp down continues to take effect, reducing the numbers seen publicly concealing tobacco in key public areas such as local estates, the airport roads and Landport, an increase in the frequency of other areas used has been observed.
Areas such as western beach and eastern beach have during the past weeks seen a minimum movement due to the presence of Customs officers during the day time. However, as from 8pm there is a marked increase in the movement seen when officers leave the areas.
The smugglers continue late into the evening in areas such as eastern beach where they have been seen cutting through the razor sharp fences on a daily basis. Source close the law enforcement agencies have indicated that the fence is now being repaired on a daily basis by workers in the morning after it has been cut through at night.
It has also been observed that whilst there is a reduction in numbers in areas frequented in the past, there has been an increase in the movement of vessels using areas such as western arm. Loop-holes in the law, such as the number of cartons which can be carried at anyone time, are being used as ways around the local authorities to the annoyance of local law enforcement officers. With little for them to do than stop and search and allow them to proceed. Even though the same officers are aware that these same people will proceed to attempt to unload their bags full of tobacco along the shorelines once they have left the area.
As one officer remarked when asked as to why persons known to be involved in such activity were so freely involved "what can we do if they are within the law." His comments echoed by many others who continue to express their concerns at what they see as a lack of powers to enforce policies which would stop such activity from taking place.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Now out No Comment Issue 1 - Weekly Digital magazine for Gibraltar

A lot of work has gone into producing this first issue. Getting the images is as much a challenge if not more than asking someone to respond to questions to get part of the stories. Images need to tell stories of what is happening, and you need to know what is happening to be able to capture it.