Customs investigators announce investigative successes from 2020

Customs Investigation Hamburg

The year 2020 was characterized by the fight against cocaine smuggling via the major German seaports in Hamburg and Bremerhaven. This trend continued in the first quarter of the current year. Although the amount of cocaine seized decreased slightly in the past year (2020: 8,087 kilograms, 2019: 9,506 kilograms, difference: -1,419 kilograms), it was again at a very high level.

Customs investigators netted 244 kilograms of heroin last year. The drug was found in a container in the port of Hamburg and seized. In the year as a whole, 258 kilograms of heroin were removed from circulation in northern Germany.

As in the other crime areas, there is a clear trend in drug investigations towards criminal activities being transferred to the darknet and illegal goods being shipped by mail.

Dresden Customs Investigation Office

Despite all the pandemic-related restrictions and challenges, the Dresden Customs Investigation Office continued to perform its duties to combat medium, serious and organized customs crime at a high level in 2020.

The range of investigations included cross-border narcotics offenses, excise tax offenses, cross-border violations of legal provisions in the areas of weapons and explosives, pharmaceuticals and doping substances, species protection and industrial property protection, as well as the evasion of import duties.

Last year, the Dresden Customs Investigation Office initiated 2,198 new preliminary proceedings (2019: 1,469) against 2,740 suspects (2019: 2,025) and continued a large number of existing proceedings.

As a result of the successful investigations conducted by the Dresden Customs Investigation Office, courts handed down prison sentences totaling 189 years (2019: 200) and fines totaling 163,550 euros (2019: 190,455) in the previous year.

Last year, officers from the Dresden Customs Investigation Office seized, among other things, more than 1 ton of narcotics, 10 million pieces of cigarettes, 61 tons of smoking tobacco, 14,000 pyrotechnic products, 313 items prohibited under the Weapons Act, 217 kilograms of prohibited medicines, 19 kilograms of doping substances, and more than 1,000 products of or from protected animal and plant species.

Through their investigations, the Dresden customs investigators also uncovered tax evasion totaling more than 5 million euros and contributed to the subsequent seizure of nearly 39.5 million euros.

Combating internationally organized narcotics smuggling continues to be a major focus of the work of the Dresden Customs Investigation Office. The number of preliminary proceedings initiated in this area of crime increased by 40% year-on-year to 725 (2019: 516).

In total, more than one ton of various narcotics and around 18,000 ecstasy pills were seized in 2020.

For the most part, the narcotics were not destined for Germany, but for addressees in other countries in Europe or on other continents. In the course of international cooperation, the investigators in the target countries were immediately informed of the seizures made here. In 21 cases, the narcotics seized here were forwarded to the competent law enforcement agencies in a controlled manner, thus providing significant support to their investigations.

In the fight against cross-border narcotics crime, the Dresden Customs Investigation Office continues to focus on combating the smuggling of crystal meth (methamphetamine) and marijuana across the Saxon-Czech and Saxon-Polish borders. Detections of narcotics in the border area, which are made during suspicionless controls by control units of the main customs offices in Dresden and Erfurt, are often the starting point for the initiation of an investigation by the customs investigation office in Dresden.

An increasing focus is on proceedings based on seizures in the mail and thus on ordering a wide variety of narcotics on the Internet – especially on the Darknet. The number of preliminary proceedings based on seizures of narcotics in postal traffic has increased by 36% to 493 (2019: 362) compared to the previous year.

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