Sat, Aug 15, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Four officers detained in airport smuggling case

ALL IN THE FAMILY:The aviation police allegedly used relatives and friends to smuggle cigarettes and alcohol by escorting them past customs without being checked

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Four aviation police officers have been arrested and detained after authorities cracked a smuggling ring that reportedly brought in undeclared cigarettes and alcohol through inbound flight baggage at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

Taoyuan district prosecutors and agents of the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau carried out the raids on Thursday.

At press time last night, the four remained in detention and were held incommunicado after being questioned, as prosecutors continued the investigation to find out if higher-ranking officials were involved.

The four Aviation Police Bureau officers are: Criminal Investigation Brigade vice captain Su Sheng-li (蘇勝利), two Security Patrol Brigade junior captains Wu Hou-chien (吳候潛) and Lin Chien-ching (林建清), and an officer named Liao Chih-chiang (廖志強).

Prosecutors said the smuggling activities began in 2010, and the perpetrators have made at least NT$6 million (US$185,368) in illegal profit.

It was a case of abusing the police and judiciary powers vested in them, a prosecutor said.

The four allegedly used their families and friends going on overseas trips to smuggle in cigarettes and alcohol by escorting them past customs without being checked.

They were allowed to use special entry gates reserved for diplomats, high-ranking government officials and other authorized personnel, prosecutors said.

Given the lower prices at duty-free stores in some countries, the smuggled goods are sold at a profit to licensed cooperating stores in Taiwan, they said.

Prosecutors said they are focusing on whether criminal syndicates are involved, and whether the accused had used their access and authority to smuggle in firearms, narcotics and other contraband goods.

The four at first denied taking part in any illegal activity, but when questioned and presented with incriminating evidence, they defended themselves by saying it was due to pressure from local politicians, government officials and their superiors to “help out” with escorting in undeclared goods, prosecutors said.

Ming Chuan University management professor Chang Ping-wu (張平吾) said that customs authorities should set up multiple levels of security units and checkpoints in airports and seaports to stop small groups such as this from gaining access and control over the whole customs process.

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