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Contraband Bonanza year for border guards

Seizures of false documents and banned arms also increased significantly

Seizures of false documents and banned arms also increased significantly


Swiss customs seized a record SFr23 billion ($25 billion) of contraband goods in 2012. Also, the number of people attempting to enter Switzerland illegally or found to be in the country illegally doubled last year to 10,965.

Illegal imports of fruit, vegetables and cigarettes made up the bulk of seizures at border posts. In all, officers of the Federal Customs Administration impounded 1,100 tonnes of foodstuffs, up 13 per cent on 2011.

Any import over 200kg is considered organised contraband; customs made 7,200 confiscations of this type last year – chiefly fruit and vegetables, followed by cereals, pasta and meat.

Cases of cigarette smuggling rose by 39 per cent, mainly individuals importing small quantities. Only France has higher cigarette prices than Switzerland.

The number of drug traffickers arrested at customs with drugs concealed in their bodies went up by 40 per cent in 2012. These mules represented 105 of the 192 cases of drugs deliveries intercepted by customs.  

While the seizures of khat (1,382kg) and cocaine (124kg) remained relatively stable, the heroin take jumped from 20kg to 34kg. Seizures of false documents and banned arms also saw a significant increase, in the region of 40 per cent.

With regard to the movement of people, border guards refused entry to 3,296 people last year. In total, 13,747 people were arrested at the border, an increase of 34 per cent.

“Switzerland joining the Schengen zone has proven its usefulness,” Rudolf Dietrich of the customs administration said at a press conference on Tuesday. The Schengen Information System makes it possible to arrest more wanted people, he said – almost 4,000 individuals in 2012.


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