Airlines join smuggling fight hinh anh 1Customs officials check luggage at Da Nang International Airport. The Civil Aviation Authority of Viet Nam has tightened inspections to stop smuggling. Photo: VNA

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has adopted bold measures to prevent smuggling and illegal transportation of goods.

Under a new regulation issued recently, CAAV asked the aviation sector to coordinate with concerned agencies in the fight against smuggling, commercial fraud and counterfeiting.

CAAV also asked Vietnam Airlines to cooperate with Vietnam Customs and the Police General Department to organise training courses for aviation security forces on how to recognise fake goods and stop smugglers.

CAAV emphasised that organisations and individuals who transport smuggled goods will be strictly punished. It is necessary to clarify the responsibilities of government officials and especially the head of the office where the violations occur.

The CAAV has required units under its leadership to install more surveillance cameras at airports and improve their operations to prevent smuggling.

This move followed a gold smuggling scandal involving a Vietnam Airlines captain and a flight attendant in March, in which customs in the Republic of Korea found six kilos of gold hidden in their shoes without customs declaration.

Nguyen Van Chien, deputy head of the customs branch at Noi Bai Airport, said in recent times some aviation staff members has taken advantage of their positions to illegal transport goods on flights. He said the branch has been cooperating with relevant forces at the airport to enhance inspections and detect violations.

Customs officials at Tan Son Nhat Airport said they were studying smuggler techniques so they could teach their employees how to stop them. They also made detailed plans on how to solve a case of illegal transportation of drugs or prohibited goods whenever they got information on a suspect.

According to Steering Committee 389, which leads the national fight against smuggling, commercial fraud and counterfeit, the number of violations discovered through airlines is on the rise at Tan Son Nhat and Noi Bai. Do Thanh Quang, head of the Customs Branch at Tan Son Nhat Airport, admitted that their employees faced a lot of pressure when it came to smuggling by air. Passengers often came to do immigration procedures close to the flight time, making inspections harder for customs employees, he said.

Tong Le Dan, deputy head of customs at the airport, said it is the most important gateway for foreign travellers and goods entering the country, and in recent years has become a black market hot spot ripe with traffickers of all kinds of illegal goods.

As such, the branch has faced a lot difficulties in the fight against smuggling and illegal transportation of drugs.

Over the past two years, the Customs Branch at Tan Son Nhat Airport has intercepted more than 576.6kg of ivory and 48.6kg of rhino horn. The branch has also detected 43 cases of smuggling involving 104kg of drugs.

Noi Bai Customs has dealt with more than 70 smuggling cases since last year involving drugs, gold, weapons, wild animals and animal products.

Noi Bai Customs and anti-smuggling officials on August 12 found nearly 100kg of ivory and 5kg of rhino horns in four packages of luggage travelling from Africa by air.

In April, officials seized 65.4kg of ivory and rhino horns transported from France by air.-VNA