One of the five vehicles seized during the operation against contraband (Image ECC)

Customs Seizes Contraband worth 310mln Birr, Nabs 19 Suspects

At least 19 suspected smugglers have been arrested as customs officers seized contraband goods worth 310 million Birr in a weeklong operation against illegal cross border trade.

The Ethiopian Customs Commission (ECC) disclosed in a statement on Saturday that the seizure was made in the operation conducted in partnership with members of the federal and regional security forces, and the public, starting March 21.

Coffee, electronics, cosmetics, weapons, Khat, medicines, narcotic substances, vehicle spare parts, packed edible oil, and foreign banknotes of several countries were among the intercepted items.

The EEC said the customs seized most of the contraband items while they were being smuggled into the country, estimating their value at 189.5 million Birr. The remaining 121.3 million Birr worth of goods were captured before leaving the country.

The contrabands were intercepted at different checkpoints with 19 suspects arrested, along with five vehicles used to transport the contraband.

EEC’s Moyale Customs branch made the highest seizure, intercepting goods worth 99 million Birr. Dire Dawa and Adama Customs also seized contrabands worth 77 million Birr and 50 million Birr, respectively taking the second and third spots.

While appreciating all that contributed to the recent operation, the Commission stressed that combatting contraband should not be left to the customs alone.

Its complex nature and ever-changing tactics smugglers use make it necessary for other stakeholder institutions to step up their efforts in the fight against the peril of smuggling to the nation’s economy, the Commission urged.