‘Twin truck trick’ used in border traffic
Nuray Babacan ANKARA
DHA PhotoAs the government has recently developed new methods to fight against border trafficking, smugglers have created new loopholes to not be caught. One of the latest methods of smugglers is known as the “twin truck method,” which has surprised customs authorities, including Customs and Trade Minister Nurettin Canikli himself.
“I worked as a customs inspector for 13 years before I became a minister. I have never seen such fraud before,” he said.
The smugglers are using two trucks in trafficking goods.
“Two trucks came to the Cilvegözü gate at the border of Turkey and Syria, for instance. These trucks were declared doing transit banana transportation through Turkey to Syria. The truck owners said they bought bananas from the Mersin port in the south to carry directly to Syria through the border. As they were doing transit transportation, they did not need to pay high customs at the gate. The two trucks were like each other in terms of outer appearance, like twins, with only different license plates. As bananas are in the group of risky goods, like cigarettes, both trucks were supposed to pass through the red line at the border,” said Canikli.
He noted first truck passed through the X-ray through the gate.
“There is no problem at first glance. Then, the customs authorities realized the license plate of the unchecked truck, which is loaded with cement, was removed to put on the checked truck, which was loaded with bananas. Thus, the unchecked truck with a checked plate is able to pass through the border gate, but the other truck did not,” he said.
Their aim was to pass the truck with cement without being checked through the gate to Syria.
“The smugglers acted as if they had carried bananas, but they mainly carried cement across the border to Syria and they sold bananas in the Turkish market by not paying high customs tax for bananas at 35 percent. This was a win-win situation for them. This method is called the ‘twin truck trick’ among customs officials,” he noted.
He said the X-Ray controls had been made in an outside area after trucks exited the border gate earlier.
“We’ll put the X-Ray mechanisms at the gates. We’ll be seeing which truck is checked clearer,” he added.
The Customs Ministry has recently launched many operations to fight against smuggling cases across the country.
Turkey last November launched a major operation aimed at bringing down a suspected gang that illegally brought in over 1,000 tons of beef from Paraguay, Canikli said, describing the haul as Turkey’s biggest-ever smuggling case.
Turkish investors carried out raids on five storage spaces in the southern city of Mersin, where 1,044 tons of smuggled red meat had been stored, said Canikli.
“The meat was supposedly going to Syria and Iraq through the border gate of Cilvegözü, according to the customs documents. We, however, discovered that almost all of the meat was sold on the Turkish market without any duties being paid,” he said.