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According to the Deputy Commander of the Immigration Police Service (SPI), Chief Inspector Luis Barreto, his Unit by law does not have the competence to search passengers’ bags.He said this in relation to claims that his Unit, the SPI, is responsible for the availability of illegal drugs in Timor-Leste.
“Our problem is that we are not mandated by law to search bags for drugs. That is the role of the Criminal Investigation Unit, they are mandated to investigate cases while the searching bags is the responsibility of Customs officials,” said Chief Inspector Barreto, last week, from his office in Vila-Verde, in Dili.
“We can only check whether travelers have the right documentation such as valid passports and visa documents,” he added.
When after a criminal investigation a foreigner is deemed to have illegally brought drugs into the country, “we will start a process called voluntary abandonment or even deport the person should that be the decision of the courts,” said Chief Inspector Barreto.
In the meantime, according to a source who declined to be identified from the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC), many drugs are available in the capital Dili, but the police so far has not been able to arrest anyone because the drugs circulate underground.
TDW tried to confirm the above statement with the Commander for SIC, Superintendent Calistro Gonzaga, but he was not available for an interview.
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