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Smuggling in the Hauraki Gulf

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, the Department of Conservation (DOC), and the New Zealand Police Maritime Unit kicks off this week in the Hauraki Gulf, with a focus on testing operational capabilities in a joint response to illegal border activity.

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, DOC, and the Police Maritime Unit. 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."

"Interagency cooperation using whole of government resources is essential for combating environmental crime," says DOC national compliance and law enforcement coordinator Felicity Heffernan.

"This exercise is another opportunity to allow our respective organisations to continue to build upon our already close working inter agency relationship. It will allow us to further develop our collective ability to protect New Zealand's borders," says Senior Sergeant Martin Paget, O/C of the Police Maritime Unit.

Any Media wishing to visit the exercise are asked to contact Rochelle Turnbull from the New Zealand Customs Service Communications Team.

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