THE Customs Department is to extend its presence to both Black River in St Elizabeth and Rocky Point, Clarendon to capitalise on increased shipping and revenue-driven activities at both rural ports.
"From our observation and intelligence activities, we have concluded that a stronger Customs presence in these areas is prudent for border management and revenue collection," the department informed the Jamaica Observer in response to queries last weekend.
According to Commissioner of Customs Major Richard Reese, the presence of Customs is necessary in light of the "level of importation that is taking place at those wharves".
"In fact, we might need Immigration (facilities), as well," Major Reese told the Rotary Club of St Andrew North, at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica on Ruthven Road, Kingston last week.
The commissioner pointed out that there is a joint Coast Guard/Police base at Black River, "and we have found that by deploying Customs officers, significant amounts of contraband have been found, including narcotics".
He said that there will be enhanced risk management and intelligence operations at the ports when the system becomes operational.
"Last week, we did an operation targeting just about 10 containers and were able to get $840 million in additional duties; so those operations will continue," he said.
Customs, he added, will also be focusing on un-manifested goods, as well as joint operations with the Tax Administration Department, the Financial Investigations Division, the Revenue Protection Division, the police and the army, and they will be looking at sharing facilities in the targeted areas, as well.
Reese added that Customs has also been joining in special operations with international partners, targeting smuggling and illicit and counterfeit imports, which are already producing results.
"What this means is that by monitoring our exports, and by our allies monitoring their exports, one can get information regarding suspect shipments which can be interdicted on arrival," he explained.