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Tobacco smugglers ram Customs boat in dramatic night-time chase

A Customs vessel was rammed by two small speedboats during a dramatic night-time chase targeting tobacco smugglers in British waters in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The incident began in the Bay of Gibraltar near Emerson’s Place when a Customs vessel engaged in a pursuit of a suspect vessel loaded with tobacco.

The vessel, a small speedboat approximately 5.5 metres in length, made numerous evasive manoeuvres until the Customs patrol boat,HMC Tango 1 was able to intercept it.

At that point two other suspect vessels believed to be involved in illicit tobacco activity tried to assist the small speedboat to make its escape.

“The occupants of the speedboat were able to escape by land,” Customs said in a statement.

“When Customs officers confiscated and boarded the small speedboat, the other two vessels rammed it and attacked the officers, hitting one of them on the shoulder.”

“An individual on one of the vessels then threatened the officers, making comments about a weapon and acting as if he had retrieved a firearm by pointing both his hands towards them.”

The two suspect vessels then attempted to ram HMC Seeker and HMC Tango 1, colliding in the process and causing one of the occupants to fall overboard.

“The suspects managed to retrieve the individual from the water and made their escape into Spain,” the statement added.

Customs Officers seized 1,500 cartons of cigarettes and paraphernalia related to tobacco smuggling.

The case remains open and investigations continue.