The Customs Surveillance Service
is a Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...
law enforcement agency
In North American English, a law enforcement agency is a government agency responsible for the enforcement of the laws.Outside North America, such organizations are called police services. In North America, some of these services are called police while others have other names In North American...
responsible for the investigation and prosecution of cases involving contraband, illegal drugs, financial evasion and violations, money laundering, surveillance for financial police purposes and the provision of judicial police services.
The origin of the service goes back to the creation of a paramilitary organization (called in Spanish Resguardo
) to protect the monopoly of tobacco of the Tabacalera
Tabacalera is a Spanish tobacco monopoly which was established in 1636, making it the oldest tobacco company in the world . In 1999 the company merged with SEITA of France to form Altadis. Its brands included Ducados and Fortuna....
(the oldest tobacco company in the world), a Spanish tobacco monopoly which was established in 1636. The primary duty of the Resguardo
was to protect the monopoly that the State exercised over the tobacco, combatting smuggling since its trade was one of the primary sources of funds of the Spanish Royal Treasury between the seventeenth and the 18th centuries.
Recent history of the service begins in 1944 with the creation of the Servicio Especial de Vigilancia Marítima y Terrestre de Tabacalera S.A.
(Special Service of Maritime and Terrestrial Surveillance from Tabacalera) charged of preventing the tobacco contraband. In 1954 due to the ineffectiveness of the service its duties were assumed by the Spanish Treasury who reorganized the service and created the Servicio Especial de Vigilancia Fiscal
(Special Service of Fiscal Surveillance), made up of military and civilian personnel, which assumed the task of fighting the contraband. In 1982 the service was reorganized under the Servicio de Vigilancia Aduanera
(Customs Surveillance Service) and its duties were broadened to include the investigation of economic crimes and the fight against illegal drugs, among other roles.
The most common duties of the SVA are regulated by the Royal Decree 319/1982
and the Organic Law against contraband 12/1995
Those are the investigation, discovery and prosecution of contraband violations throughout the nation, territorial waters and airspace. The force also has powers conferred by the Spanish internal revenue agency (Agencia Tributaria) regarding economic crimes, including the fight against corruption, fraud investigation in foreign trade and money laundering, among other roles.
The SVA cooperates with international and European organizations such as the European Anti-Fraud Office, Europol
Europol is the European Union's criminal intelligence agency. It became fully operational on 1 July 1999....
or the World Customs Organization
The World Customs Organization is an intergovernmental organization headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. With its worldwide membership, the WCO is recognized as the voice of the global customs community...
The Deputy Directorate of Customs Surveillance is integrated into the Department of Customs and Special Taxes of the Internal Revenue Agency of the Ministry of Economy and Finance
The Ministry of Economy and Finance is the Ministry of Economic affairs and Second Vice President of the Government of SpainThis Ministry is in charge of the development, proposal and execution of the economical policy of the government, specially of the State Budgets, the control of Public...
The customs headquarters is in Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...
Department of Customs and Special Taxes
- Deputy Directorate of Customs Surveillance
- Section of Operations (Subdirección General de Operaciones)
- Section of Logistics (Subdirección General de Logística)
- Section of Planning, Statistics and Coordination (Subdirección General de Planificación, Estadística y Coordinación)
- Section of Customs Management (Subdirección General de Gestión Aduanera)
- Section of Management and Control of Special Taxes (Subdirección General de Gestión e Intervención de Impuestos Especiales)
- Section of Inspection and Investigation (Subdirección General de Inspección e Investigación)
- Section of Chemicals and Technologies (Subdirección General Químico-Tecnológica)
- Section of International Relations (Subdirección General de Relaciones Internacionales)
The aircraft fleet consists of CASA C-212 Aviocar maritime patrol aircraft and MBB Bo 105, Dauphin
The Eurocopter SA 365/AS365 Dauphin 2 is a medium-weight multipurpose twin-engine helicopter manufactured by Eurocopter .-Design and development:...
and BK117 helicopters manufactured by Eurocopter.
The maritime component of the Customs Surveillance Service is one of the largest employed by the Spanish Government with approximetely 90 vessels in service.
The maritime units of the service are classed as Spanish Navy Auxiliary vessels
The Spanish Navy is the maritime branch of the Spanish Armed Forces, one of the oldest active naval forces in the world. The Armada is responsible for notable achievements in world history such as the discovery of Americas, the first world circumnavigation, and the discovery of a maritime path...
(Decree 1002/1961, of maritime surveillance)
Maritime Special Operations Units
- Special Operations ships: 2 Ships for Special Operations and counterdrug patrols. These ships have both a medium helicopter deck, Long Range Interceptors and Deployable Pursuit Boats (DPB), detention cells, etc.
- High Endurance ships: 18 of different classes. Equipped with Deployable Pursuit Boats.
- Medium Endurance ships and High Speed Interception boats: 24 different classes. Depending of which class they are they carry Deployable Pursuit Boats.
- Others, including Rigid Inflatable Boats, boats seized from smugglers and used by the service, etc.
The Special Operations Units of the Customs Maritime Service are responsible for tracking drug shipments from foreign points-of-origin and interdicting them in international waters, supported by the investigations of ground staff.
Most of the vehicles used are unmarked while some of them are marked, specially those deployed in airports and seaports or in specific operations.
They also are equipped with mobile scanners for non-intrusive inspections
Cargo scanning or non-intrusive inspection refers to non-destructive methods of inspecting and identifying goods in transportation systems. It is often used for scanning of intermodal freight shipping containers...
. Investigation units have special equipment to accomplish their missions like thermal cameras, interceptions devices, etc.
Spanish Customs Agents are armed with the 9mm Heckler & Koch USP Compact
The USP is a semi-automatic pistol developed in Germany by Heckler & Koch GmbH of Oberndorf am Neckar as a replacement for the P7 series of handguns.-History:...
pistols and Heckler & Koch MP5
The Heckler & Koch MP5 is a 9mm submachine gun of German design, developed in the 1960s by a team of engineers from the German small arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch GmbH of Oberndorf am Neckar....
Also 7.62mm MG3 and .50 caliber M2 machine guns are mounted on vessels.