44-Foot Vessel, Occupants Intercepted
Shortly after midnight on August 29 Customs and Immigration patrol teams on the maritime platforms detected a 44-foot vessel making an unauthorised entry into the Territory.
According to Commissioner of Customs, Mr Wade Smith, the vessel was detected from a western direction by two of the platforms that are monitoring the Territorial waters and a collective response was made by the Joint Task Force.
The Joint Task Force, is comprised of officers from HM Customs, Immigration and the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, was approved by the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands for the COVID-19 era.
The vessel was tracked from West End to Road Harbour where it was intercepted and secured with the occupants on-board, at this time when the borders are closed. The matter is being investigated by HM Customs.
“I wish to commend the officers involved in this exercise for their hard work and diligence in vigilantly maintaining the integrity of our sea borders during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Commissioner Smith said.
Just one week ago more measures were taken to further strengthen protection of the BVI’s sea borders as part of the COVID-19 24-hour mitigation strategy under the theme: “BVILOVE: Partnering and Protecting our Sea Borders in The New Regular”.
He added that this 24-hour mitigation strategy is incorporating a long-term plan to ensure that there is a permanent presence of security on the waters.
Mr. Smith also noted that the resources available to law enforcement, particularly maritime assets will further ensure and strengthened border security in the BVI.
HM Customs is also collaborating with US Customs, among others, to further enhance the monitoring of the shared sea borders with the US Virgin Islands under the Friendship Day and Inter Virgin Islands Council commitment of the Greater Virgin Islands.
Mr. Smith emphasised that officers of HM Customs and the maritime teams, including those who comprise the Joint Task Force remain committed to playing their respective roles in keeping the BVI safe during this COVID-19 era and beyond.
As a reminder, there is currently a restriction on the movement of vessels within the Territorial waters except for approved fisherfolk and intra-island ferries. Persons are encouraged to call 311 immediately to report any suspicious or illegal activities.
If you or someone you know believes that you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, do not go to any health institution. Contact the medical hotline at 852-7650. Persons must continue to wear a face mask or shield, sanitise hands frequently, and practice social distancing, among the other protocols, because this is the only way to reduce the virus spreading from person to person.