A major intelligence-driven operation has resulted in millions of dollars worth of liquor seized in a raid on Good Friday.
According to officials of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), yesterday, 20 persons were arrested in the exercise that took place in the vicinity of the Two Brothers gas wharf, Parika East Bank Essequibo.
It was disclosed that GRA’s Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) received information and based on investigation, a decision was taken to conduct the raid.
During the raid, the officers boarded a boat – the Aster IX- and following searches, some 730 cases of Heineken beer, and 54 bottles of assorted foreign alcoholic beverage- including tequila and Absolut Vodka were seized.
Also seized were 1072 bales and 48 cases of GT Smart Cigarettes and 10 smart televisions. The officials said that five Canter trucks and 20 persons were apprehended and placed into custody.
Those apprehended included the captain and the crew members found on the board motor vessel.
“GRA wishes to expressly remind the general public of their mandatory obligation to pay their taxes and be tax compliant, since efforts will be made to prosecute all offenders found guilty of evasion pursuant to the provisions of the various Tax Acts.”
In cases of finding smuggled items, GRA has said that it can fine the persons involved up to three times the value.
A second similar offence could result also in the seizure of the items.
A third offence could result in not only seizure of the good, but fines and confiscation of the vehicles involved.
In recent times, GRA has been recording major seizures including smuggled chicken. With the Easter weekend currently being celebrated, the seizures and busting of the smuggling operations Friday would be a hard blow to the pockets of the culprits.
Guyana has been leaking revenues for years from smuggling with little progress made to break the illegal operations. GRA in the last 18 months have been making strides with more intelligence gathering paying off.
In the past, Customs officers were accused of turning a blind eye and even tipping off smugglers of impending raid.
However, GRA has been cracking down on corrupt staffers with more than 100 of them sent home since mid-2016, for corruption and absenteeism.
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