Drug smuggling back to pre-Covid levels


ILLEGAL drug routes have fully reopened after being hampered by pandemic border restrictions, the head of Customs and Immigration has warned as he revealed that cocaine and cannabis worth £400,000 was seized last week alone.

The amount of cannabis confiscated coming into the Island quadrupled in 2023 compared to the year before, according to newly released figures.

And the upward trend in drug seizures is continuing this year.

Customs and Immigration head Mark Cockerham said: “What we have seen in 2023 is a reversion to normal border activity and supply and demand – and this trend has continued in 2024.”

Mr Cockerham said Customs and Immigration last week seized ten kilograms of cannabis and half a kilogram of cocaine, with a total street value of £400,000.

Meanwhile, a 58-year-old Dutch national, Evert Paul Smallegange, was sentenced to ten months in prison on Friday after he was caught by Customs officers in February trying to smuggle 1kg of cannabis resin – with a street value of £30,000 – into the Island.

Commenting on the rise in seizures, Mr Cockerham said: “While no border can be completely impenetrable to smuggling activity, we do have robust controls to prevent and detect attempts.

“This is something we constantly monitor, not just through seizures but through intelligence sharing locally with States of Jersey Police and other enforcement agencies off-Island.”

In 2023, more than 15kg of cannabis – herbal and resin – was confiscated in 56 operations.

There were a similar number of seizures (55) in 2022, but the quantity of cannabis confiscated was far lower: 3kg.

Home Affairs Minister Mary Le Hegarat highlighted the statistics in response to a written question from Deputy Tom Coles.

However, last year’s figures are far lower than in 2019, when 76 seizures unearthed more than 71kg of cannabis. By comparison in 2020, 5.6kg of cannabis was seized in 152 operations.

There was significantly reduced border activity between 2019 and 2022 due to pandemic restrictions.

During this time, there was also an increase in postal seizures, but the amounts seized were smaller.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –