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Sierra Leone News: Smuggling ring uncovered by Customs officials

Customs officers at the National Revenue Authority (NRA) have unearthed a huge smuggling ring in Freetown and several arrests have been made. Reports say the smuggled items included; foodstuff, medicine, and timber, estimated to be worth over Le200 million in taxes. The raid was reportedly conducted at the Yams Farm Wharf Western Rural in the Freetown environs. Reports say the tips from anonymous informants confirmed that smuggling has been happening at the Yams Farm Wharf for over two months. The Head of Revenue Intelligence and Investigation Unit at the Commissioner General’s Office NRA, Mohamed James Foday, said the customs department was able to prevent the smuggling as a result of Commissioner Foday’s strategy to recruit whistle-blowers and informants to help prevent smuggling activities in various parts of the country. Commissioner Foday disclosed that the informants are recruited on a contractual basis. He mentioned that NRA has recruited 18 informants that are working under his unit and confirmed that it was one of the informants who told them about the smuggling ring which led to the arrest of the smugglers. Foday said, “I went to work one morning without the faintest idea that smugglers were preparing that very moment to smuggle timber and other items to Guinea. I saw many young men off-loading a truck of timber as well as on loading boats that came from Guinea. I decided to call the Assistant Commissioner Anti-Smuggling Unit.” The Assistant Commissioner Anti-Smuggling Unit at NRA, Brima Samba Kemoh, said lots of smuggling activities at the Wharf are yet to be discovered, pointing out that they are looking forward to having more informants to help tackle the problem. Deputy Commissioner – Customs, Tennyson Bio, expressed disappointment that smuggling has been happening at the Yams Farm community for over two months and the people have failed to report it. He noted that it is a big loss to the country, adding that the proceeds lost to smuggling should have been used to undertake major development projects. The Head of SWAT at the Transnational Organised Crime Unit, Andrew Rhonko, confirmed that they have made four arrests so far as investigations continue. The entire management together with board members of NRA were at the scene to ensure the goods were confiscated.

AT/13/5/19

Tuesday May 14, 2019.

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