Saudi Customs confirmed that its officers at border points receive death threats when they confiscate smuggled goods.
During a media workshop on the work of Saudi Customs and the role of the media, the head of the directorate Saleh Al-Khelaiwi said customs authorities have evidence of such threats to employees and their families.
Discussing why fireworks are confiscated from citizens even though they are used in celebrations, he told Alsharq daily they are allowed into the country for specific celebrations as long as they meet certain specifications.
“Such fireworks are of high quality and are used by experts, while smuggled fireworks are of an inferior quality that can cause injuries,” he said.
He pointed out the SR750 ($200) monthly wages of customs officers working in the field cannot meet the high cost of living and this encourages smugglers to try to bribe such employees for large amounts of money.
He added Saudi Customs is governed by public laws and systems, but he was able three years ago to increase these officers’ salaries by 35 percent.
Al-Khelaiwi pointed out that total imports into the country amounted to SR319 billion during the first half of this year and exports were worth SR96 billion.
The number of incoming and outgoing vehicles reached 11 million. He said that despite the huge increase in imports, the average time for clearing a shipment is around 1.7 days.
“During the first half of this year, customs officers confiscated 13 million narcotic pills and 5,081 kilograms of other drugs.
“They also confiscated 47 million fake products and stopped a further 43 million pieces from entering the country because they did not meet Saudi standards.”
Saudi Customs spokesman, Eisa Al-Eisa, said the directorate implements a unified Gulf law that does not call for the naming and shaming of smugglers.
This article was first published in Saudi Gazette on Wednesday, Sep. 03,2014.