By Jon Frost
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Extra resources for Anything to Declare?: The Searching Tales of an HM Customs Officer
I stood there watching everyone file past knowing that, like when it comes to spiders, they’re more afraid of you than you are of them. I remembered from my training that they said that spotting potential targets is like trying to find Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket. Although the training gave us guidelines in the area, in the end it quite often came down to experience. But, until you got that experience, you needed something to go on, so it was broken down into categories of suspicion: a) Paperwork: Passports that showed trips to drug-source countries; flight tickets paid in cash; and diaries (some people are actually stupid enough to write down everything that they have been up to, including the illegal acts).
All the other passengers in the queue shared our bafflement – they looked at each other, then looked at Mr Van der Mons, then looked back at us. It was like a mass breakout of synchronized frowning. ’ at a Customs officer. But that wasn’t all our flying Dutchman had in store. As he came through the green channel, he bounded over to where Mick and I were standing, undoing his belt and unzipping his trousers as he approached. Then he spun round and Mick and I – like a couple of astronomers looking at the night sky at a certain time of the month – were bathed in the unmistakable glare of a full moon.
Anyway, like they say, as is the custom, I’ll introduce myself: I served over twenty years in Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise (HMCE), initially as a uniformed officer at London airports, then moving on to a role as a preventive Intelligence officer before promotion into the plain-clothes and undercover Customs Investigation Division. Later still, I moved to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). Most of what I have seen and done has never been made public except for some of the larger drugs jobs, and even then very few people knew what occurred before the arrests took place.
Anything to Declare?: The Searching Tales of an HM Customs Officer by Jon Frost