Smuggler arrested after runway incident, but one escapes
Two inbound flights were delayed on Tuesday after two tobacco smugglers abandoned their speedboat and ran onto the runway trying to escape from Customs officers.
The pair were chased from Emerson’s Place by a Customs vessel and sped toward the Spanish coastline, before ditching their boat on the runway breakwater close to Western beach and fleeing on foot.
Both ran south across the runway as the Customs boat tracked them from the sea.
One of the men then ran back toward Spain and was arrested by armed officers of the Gibraltar Defence Police, with land-based Customs units also at the scene.
But the second man managed to cross into Marina Bay and evade arrest by mingling with people going about their business.
Senior officials said the incident unfolded far from the airport apron and played down public concerns over security, adding the response by law enforcement units had been swift.
But they are nonetheless reviewing the incident to see if any lessons can be learned, not least because one of the suspects managed to get away.
During the operation, two bags were seized filled with 25 cartons of cigarettes. A vessel was also seized and towed back to the Customs Marine Base by HMC Searcher.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the man arrested was taken to New Mole House Police station, in line with standard practice even though this was a GDP arrest.
The man was arrested on suspicion of entering MoD property without permission and being in possession of a commercial quantity of tobacco.
The Chronicle understands he was subsequently bailed to appear at a later date.
“There was a slight delay to the arrival of two incoming flights,” the MoD spokeswoman said, although the barriers on Winston Churchill Avenue had been open throughout the incident.
“The incident is now under investigation by the appropriate authorities therefore I am unable to comment further at this stage,” she said.