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Smuggling In The Hauraki Gulf

26 April 2004 Media Statement

Smuggling In The Hauraki Gulf

There's a bit of smuggling going on the Hauraki Gulf this week, but surprisingly, it's all kosher.

Exercise FORGE, a joint agency exercise between the New Zealand Customs Service and the Department of Conservation (DOC) kicks off this week in the Hauraki Gulf. With a focus on testing operational capabilities in a joint response to illegal border activity, the exercise runs through until Friday 30 April, providing a valuable opportunity to see response operations first hand.

Manager of the Customs Service Risk Response Group, Paul Smith, said the general scenario involves activating a joint response team to deal with a simulated illegal smuggling activity.

" We're looking at the interoperability between Customs and DOC. This means checking out how ready we are to respond to such a scenario, what the operational capabilities are of both our people and equipment, and testing our communications in this type of a multi agency environment."

"We're expecting it to be a very successful exercise and give us the opportunity to see what can be improved, how good our standard operating procedures and practices actually are, and also see if there are other training areas we should be looking at."

DOC national compliance and law enforcement coordinator Felicity Heffernan said the exercise was a chance to test the organisations capability and performance when dealing with border incursions in an operation that was as realistic as possible.

“The successful conviction of the two Czech plant smugglers in February was due to DOC, Customs and MAF working together in the Wildlife Enforcement Group. DOC needs to maintain its high level support to this group.”

The key to successful operations in the past has been making sure all actions or decisions have a legal basis and all evidence is obtained in a way that is legally admissible in court and can withstand judicial review. This exercise will be looking to achieve the same outcome.

ENDS

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