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Fuel canister laws to toughen, after RGP seize 150

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the sentences for those in possession of fuel canisters will hugely increase after the Royal Gibraltar Police seized over 150 fuel canisters filled with petrol during various operations over a period of 24 hours.

A total of 114 canisters filled with petrol were seized on Tuesday, along with 53 empty containers and one Spanish-registered vehicles when the occupants fled the scene on foot.

The latest discoveries drew a strong rebuke from Mr Picardo on his personal Twitter.

“Despite making possession of these containers an offence immediately after we saw an increase, some people continue to offend,” Mr Picardo tweeted.

“We’re liaising with @RGPolice and [Commissioner of Police Richard Ullger] to hugely increase sentences.”

“This is dangerous and supplies drug traffickers.”

“We won’t tolerate it.”

New laws were introduced last February to curb the storage, transportation and possession of large quantities of fuel.

These fuel canisters are believed to be used to supply Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats operating in drug trafficking across the Strait.

But despite the new laws, discoveries of fuel canisters across Gibraltar is on the rise.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Customs officers contacted the police to let them know they had seen a large quantity of fuel canisters in the Europa Point area.

On arrival, RGP officers assisted with the seizure of 32 full containers and approximately 40 empty ones, with further enquiries taking place.

Then at around 3am, a member of the public reported that empty fuel cans were being unloaded from a Spanish-registered vehicle in Laguna Estate.

“On police arrival, the Spanish car drove off and a chase ensued, resulting in the car being abandoned and its four occupants running from the scene,” the RGP said in a statement.

“The car was then seized by police and enquiries are ongoing to establish the identities of the four persons.”

Then in a separate operation carried out on Tuesday afternoon, Operation Trojan officers found the containers hidden close to the old Clay Pigeon Shooting Club.

Some 82 canisters filled with fuel and 13 empty ones were found inside an old military tunnel, the RGP spokesman said.

Over 2,000 litres of fuel was seized, valued at just over £2,000.

“The find was the result of an ongoing RGP operation to locate fuel containers being stored by organised crime gangs,” the RGP spokesman said.

The RGP spokesman said the storage of these fuel containers is “highly dangerous and a risk to the public”, adding that any members of the public who see a large quantity of them to contact the police anonymously.

“Not only is this helping us to tackle organised crime and the drug trafficking trade, but it’s helping to keep Gibraltar safe,” the spokesman added.

Anyone who sees any suspicious activity is encouraged to contact the RGP in confidence on 200 72500 (199 in an emergency) or on its website at www.police.gi/report-online

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