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Drugs, black money, plagiarism – Frankfurt Customs takes stock | hessenschau.de

Frankfurt customs confiscated 7.5 tons of drugs last year alone. There are also other illegal substances and products. The authority took stock in the presence of Federal Finance Minister Lindner.

Some can be seen when entering the country, but the majority of customs officers work away from the gates at Frankfurt Airport. Searches suitcases, but also company balance sheets. “Today’s customs not only means control and access, but also economic and performance management with a wide range of tasks,” said René Tetzlaff, head of the Frankfurt Main Customs Office, on Friday. The authority employs 1,370 people.

On Friday she took stock of the year 2023. This time in the presence of Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP). “Customs is a partner to the economy, but it also protects consumers and ensures security,” emphasized Lindner. The list for the past year gives an impression of the importance of customs:

drug

Frankfurt customs officers found illegal intoxicants in mail, cargo or luggage a total of 6,071 times. In total, almost 7.5 tons of drugs were taken out of circulation. This meant that the amount of drugs confiscated went down Comparison to the previous year (12.3 tons) – but the market value was significantly higher at an estimated 128 million euros (2022: 80 million euros). Specifically, the following were confiscated:

  • 4,474 kilograms of khat (chewing drug from East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula),
  • 926 kilograms of hashish and marijuana,
  • 931 kilograms of cocaine,
  • 639 kilograms of synthetic drugs such as amphetamine and ecstasy,
  • 400 kilograms of ketamine,
  • 20 kilograms of heroin.

According to customs, around 90 percent of the seizures were of postal items in the International Postal Center. 19 drug couriers were temporarily arrested at the airport.

Brand and product piracy

In 2023, the main customs office took action in 10,624 cases due to violations of trademark law. A total of 722,647 plagiarisms with a total value of 27 million euros were removed from circulation.

These included personal care products, clothing and shoes, consumer electronics, car accessories, cell phones and sporting goods. Most of the goods came from China (9,917 seizures). Other main countries of origin were Turkey, Egypt and Thailand, as customs reported.

Species protection

In 773 cases, customs took action to prevent trade in protected animal or plant species. 46,139 species-protected specimens were seized, including:

  • 362 live animals including ball pythons, turtles, parakeets, monitor lizards and geckos;
  • 7,028 live plants, including numerous orchids, cacti and agaves;
  • 38,749 goods made from animals or plants, including wild cat skins, baboon skulls, alligator skins, and butterflies and seahorses.

Medicines and doping

A total of around 1.4 million tablets and ampoules were confiscated in 12,749 shipments due to violations of the Medicines Act. The spectrum ranged from sexual enhancers to antibiotics to melatonin-containing medications for jet lag and sleep disorders. The countries of origin were predominantly the USA, China, India, Hong Kong and Singapore.

In addition, 180,032 tablets and ampoules were confiscated last year in 622 cases – mostly in the mail – which violated the anti-doping law.


Finance Minister Lindner is pleased with the customs contribution to the federal budget.

Illegal work

In 2023, the employment relationships of 3,878 people at 366 employers were checked. 1,795 criminal proceedings were initiated, as well as 886 individual proceedings for administrative offenses, including 82 for minimum wage violations.

The amount of damage resulting from the criminal and fine investigations amounts to around 32 million euros, as customs explained. The total amount of warnings, fines and confiscation amounts was 177,317 euros.

Sanctions violations

After the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the EU decided on several sanctions packages, which the customs authorities implemented nationally. Last year, 34 criminal proceedings were initiated at the main customs office in Frankfurt due to embargo violations in relation to cash.

In total, the illegal export of around 1.45 million euros was prevented. The highest amount seized from a traveler during an exit check was 560,000 euros.

Steer

By collecting national excise taxes, import sales tax, customs duties and other taxes, the Frankfurt Main Customs Office collected around 7.9 billion euros in 2023. Below

  • 6 billion euros import sales tax,
  • 807 million euros air traffic tax,
  • 423 million euros electricity tax,
  • 205 million euros in customs duties,
  • 127 million energy tax,
  • 108 million coffee tax,
  • 67 million euros beer tax.

The total revenue of the Frankfurt Main Customs Office accounts for around five percent of the nationwide customs revenue of around 158 billion euros.

Criticism of customs equipment

“Customs revenue makes a significant contribution to the federal budget,” emphasized Finance Minister Lindner: “Efficient, digitalized customs is an important location factor.” Progress has been made in digitizing processes. Germany is now in a “good position” in international comparison, said Lindner, but there is “further need for action.”

Criticism of the customs equipment came from the ranks of the police union (GdP). “Customs could hardly be managed more neglectfully,” said GdP chairman Frank Buckenhofer. Neither control units nor investigation services have been seriously strengthened in recent decades and adapted to the significantly changed crime situation.

The figures proudly presented on Friday by the management and the minister are solely thanks to dedicated customs staff, “who, despite a lack of equipment and with far too few staff, but still with full dedication, are doing their best in the fight against crime,” said Buckenhofer .

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