BUSINESS

Crocodiles, eels, sturgeon eggs: Customs officers have seen it all

PROKOPIS HATZINIKOLAOU

TAGS: Finance

Customs authorities may have had a remarkably fruitful year in 2017 as regards inspections on tobacco products – confiscating 154 million contraband cigarettes and imposing taxes and fines of 581 million euros – but they also excelled in original catches, which included the confiscation of crocodiles, eels, sturgeon eggs, underwear and cutlery.

According to statistics concerning last year published by the Independent Authority for Public Revenue, customs officials landed a number of unusual commodities during their inspections, including 400 kilos of European eels at the storage facilities of a European company at Koropi, eastern Attica, while the customs office at Athens International Airport (AIA) netted another 160 kilos of the same species.

Customs officers on Rhodes confiscated five caimans, which came from the Netherlands in a wooden container, while the Kipoi office at Evros intercepted 25 kilos of sturgeon eggs on their way to Turkey.

Authorities also discovered 580 diamonds and 58 items of precious jewelry that a passenger had smuggled out of Turkey, and the Kakavia customs office found a handwritten 18th or 19th century Quran that violated the law on antiquities protection in the luggage of an Albanian citizen.

In other remarkable finds, the Third Customs Office in Piraeus confiscated 119,520 pieces of cutlery and 109,200 items of smuggled underwear. The AIA office also found 54,300 banned steroid tablets, while the Thessaloniki office confiscated no fewer than 573,820 toys.

The increase in special consumption taxes has led to coffee smuggling too: The Serres customs office confiscated 2.31 tons of java last year. In more traditional finds, the Kipoi office found 37 bullets and of one bullet magazine, customs officials at Kakavia intercepted 1.15 tons of cannabis in a truck traveling from Albania to Greece, the Kyllini office confiscated 61,000 liters of wine and the Second Office of Piraeus relieved travelers of 8,490 liters of raki and 13,440 liters of wine.

As for undeclared cash, customs authorities confiscated 8.2 million euros and imposed fines of 2.1 million euros.

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