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Vessel fined $20K for illegal entry; Another detained

- vessels were detected by surveillance platform
One of the vessels detained by Her Majesty's Customs for illegal entry following detection by the surveillance platform. Photo: Team of Reporters
Reports of the detained vessel were confirmed by Comptroller of Customs, Mr Wade N. Smith, who also said another vessel has since been detained. Photo: VINO/File
Reports of the detained vessel were confirmed by Comptroller of Customs, Mr Wade N. Smith, who also said another vessel has since been detained. Photo: VINO/File
Back in August 2020, Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) announced that Customs and Immigration officers will be working from marine platforms in shifts so that there will be a more intense 24-hour surveillance of the borders. Photo: VINO/File
Back in August 2020, Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) announced that Customs and Immigration officers will be working from marine platforms in shifts so that there will be a more intense 24-hour surveillance of the borders. Photo: VINO/File
WEST END, Tortola, VI- A vessel determined to be illegally in Virgin Islands waters by the surveillance platform on November 19, 2020, was detained and slapped with a $20,000 fine by Her Majesty’s Customs, according to reports reaching our news centre.

Some four persons were reportedly in the vessel.

Our information was confirmed by Comptroller of Customs, Mr Wade N. Smith, who also said another vessel has since been detained.

Mr Smith did not indicate if any charges have been laid.

New line of defence against COVID-19 

It was on November 9, 2020, that our newsroom had reported that a charter vessel was fined $20,000 for illegal entry after it was detected by the surveillance platform, which has been yielding results since its introduction in August.

The Virgin Islands had heightened its border surveillance following a spike in COVID-19 cases in August, which was blamed on human smuggling and illegal entry.

The Territory has since returned to zero reported active cases of COVID-19.

According to Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1), back in August 2020, the Customs and Immigration officers will be working from marine platforms in shifts so that there will be a more intense 24-hour surveillance of the borders.

He had said the platforms will also form part of a launching point for patrol and intercepting suspicious vessels as part of a new line of defence.

“It is a lot to ask of the team because these shifts will be long hours on the sea, but our officers have expressed their commitment, and we are grateful to them and their families for what they are doing to help keep everyone safe,” the Premier had said.

47 Responses to “Vessel fined $20K for illegal entry; Another detained”

  • love it (20/11/2020, 11:12) Like (54) Dislike (18) Reply
    Arrest the foreigners but let the locals continue their 'trading'..well done BVI!
    • Wa wrong (21/11/2020, 08:30) Like (1) Dislike (6) Reply
      Wa wrong with our expats? If you do t like the BVI p,ease leave
    • @ love it (22/11/2020, 12:04) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      it fabulous for you and others similar to you to enter our territory and do what they desire. at the very least locals are breaking the laws were we from. you folks have so many things to says here, but fraid to return to your own country because life in your country is very very tuff. set of haters and envious because vi people have their own establishments in the place were they were born
  • @love it (20/11/2020, 11:34) Like (43) Dislike (6) Reply
    Every thing you have a problem with. Locals are getting arested too but it seems like you think only locals should be arrested. A lot of foreigners think that they should be running this country. They are only happy when locals are caught. We cannot be bothered with your petty and envious complaints. This place is too small to have these illigal activities whether by local or foreigners.
  • Joy & Wide (20/11/2020, 11:36) Like (68) Dislike (2) Reply
    Sets of crocks
  • Hmmmm (20/11/2020, 11:40) Like (36) Dislike (5) Reply
    Holding boats where ppl just want to enjoy the scenery and skinny dip@willie T. Border closed but billion $$$ worth of drugs coming in easily undetectable. Some kinda enforcement. Jah.
    • @ Hmmmmmmm (22/11/2020, 12:14) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      the police department involved run chat dat and police department responsible for enforcement of laws don't forget 2017 hurricanes police stole items items from various stores throughout land and still working with that department all now. talk that but those crooks from outside the territory so no criminal charges were ever brought against them police over the past 3 years
  • More photos (20/11/2020, 11:54) Like (51) Dislike (1) Reply
    The photo of the ketch is the vessel that was detained on Thursday 19 Nov. 2020. Where is the photo of the charter vessel that was detained on Monday 9 Nov. 2020?
  • BVI love (20/11/2020, 12:21) Like (20) Dislike (13) Reply
    We welcome sailors to enjoy the beautiful waters just dont sail over that imaginary line or we will rob you blind. I can hear the tourists just lining up to come to our friendly welcoming territory.
    • bvi (20/11/2020, 21:42) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
      @BVI love
      Our borders are closed...we have laws like everywhere else...go siduwn
      • USVI SAIL (24/11/2020, 07:43) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
        it’s called innocent passage and is allowed by law. BVI is going to get sued far more than $20K over this.
  • Sailing Capital?? (20/11/2020, 12:56) Like (73) Dislike (10) Reply
    I think Cu$tumS could use some lessons in diplomacy and discretion. Was this vessel intending to come assure or were they simply sailing and enjoying the scenery? We have to know who, when and how to deal with situations that does more damage to our industry than good. A few thousand dollars in the government's coffers is not worth ruining our already tarnished reputation. We're saying we want people to come to the BVI but bad publicity will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those still undecided. Boats are leaving the BVI DAILY heading to STT to get folks that have easy access there from the US...we don't. Why not pull up, let them know that you're patrolling and wish them a good day? $20,000 fine doesn't seem like BVI love to me.
    • $20,000 (20/11/2020, 13:42) Like (17) Dislike (16) Reply
      $20,000 may mot sound like BVI Love, but it is a good warning to other St Thomas sailors thinking of taking a day trip tp the Willy T or Jost Van Dyke!!! Please, we need to stay safe and discourage unwanted/untested visitors that don't want to follow our protocols.
    • @sailing (20/11/2020, 13:50) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      Hopefully those boats that are leaving respect the boundaries. Rules are in place for a reason. Now I agree with you that the fines were a bit excessive, but we can't want the government to enforce some rules and not others.
      • right (20/11/2020, 22:12) Like (5) Dislike (3) Reply
        no the fine is just as they know the territory is closed and were heading to a bar that they know isin the BVI. Should of taken their boat
      • RE; @Sailing (21/11/2020, 09:00) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
        Boats are leaving to go into the USVI to do business because people couldn't come into the BVI. Discretion goes a long way. Having a good understanding of the fragility of our tourism product would go even further. I am not condoning the breaking of rules. Fine boats that have anchored or mored illegally not those who are sailing. Where was the boat specifically located? We know it wasn't going to clear Customs/Immigration because our borders are closed. Do you know how many boats from the BVI meander into US waters, particularly St. John? In this instance the fine wasn't justified
  • wondering (20/11/2020, 13:40) Like (14) Dislike (18) Reply
    What about the sailing yacht being escorted into Road Harbor by Customs, yesterday??? BVI's reputation is being ruined systematically by gestapo tactics by Customs and Immigration. Check out what is being said in the USVI about the BVI. The BVI is no longer the Sailing Capital of the World and St. Thomas is reclaiming the chartering business that they lost to the BVI years ago. Many people swearing they will never return to the BVI, many of us who live here are embarrassed beyond belief.
  • One rule for all (20/11/2020, 14:19) Like (14) Dislike (3) Reply
    To all of those complaining - it HAS to be one rule for all. Our borders are closed, it is that simple. If these 'sailors' want to toe the line they risk getting caught. If they don't err on the side of caution it is their own fault.... to be quite honest it is disrespectful to our community and our government that people think they can flout the rules put in place to protect us.
  • Captain (20/11/2020, 15:07) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    Search the boat for contraband, check the passports and if there is no suspicious activity either give them a warning or small fine like a $500 or $1000 dollar fine. $20000 dollar fine reeks of corruption.
    • bvi (21/11/2020, 11:55) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      @ Captain...$20000 is on the books...everyone thinks the BVI have to bend their rules...No on e gives us a break.
  • Funflying (20/11/2020, 15:57) Like (16) Dislike (6) Reply
    I don’t know the exact reason this boat was detained however the BVI has signed accords that most nations have agreed to abide by. Those rules allow for the rights of innocent passage which basically allow a boat to transit another nations waters as part of a passage as long as they have no intention of anchoring or going into port. It’s entirely legal to be in BVI waters tacking around the east side of St John as a example. If on the other hand they sailed through that area and stopped at the Indians to snorkel they would be in violation of the law. Again I don’t know the circumstances but if it was a innocent passage it will cost the BVI government a lot of money as they will be fined by the international court that would hear this case.
    • Yes (20/11/2020, 22:14) Like (4) Dislike (3) Reply
      They snorkeled at the Indians and were heading to Willy T , then even asked on another message board about snorkeling the Indians and were told NO, they deserve what they get.
      • Wrong boat (24/11/2020, 08:36) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        You have the wrong boat. This was two senior couples that were day sailing around St John... not snorkeling at all.
      • Virginia (24/11/2020, 19:40) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        You're mitaken
      • Boat Jail (25/11/2020, 19:58) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        You are WRONG!!!!
        The boat never stopped anywhere!!!
        Get your info straight fron the right side of the horse.
  • challenget (20/11/2020, 16:07) Like (7) Dislike (10) Reply
    well done taskforce.
    if they dont abide by our laws then they shouldn't be here. simple. this is an international border plaim and simple. ifANYONE were caught by usvi boarder patrol illegal entry they woulldnt give any leeway so why should we.
    keep us safe.

  • Returning customer (20/11/2020, 16:54) Like (9) Dislike (9) Reply
    These can well be returning customers who lives on the sea and are accustomed to coming here every year around this time and had no idea of the Protocol,,,, come on, it's not every behavior we can pinup,,,, the Law gives authority to give out warnings,,,,,, some times the long term results and benefits are better in sympathy and understanding than been hard and bossy,,,
  • T (20/11/2020, 17:12) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    All those illegal entry did that awear that d boarder closed uh Tom drunk but Tom is no Fool one and one still remains two
  • @Returning Customers (20/11/2020, 19:22) Like (10) Dislike (3) Reply
    These can very well be smugglers disguusing as returning customers. Laws should be obeyed. Picking and choosing who should or should not obey the laws is the root of our problems. Time to tighren up. We cannot attrack tourist by allowing the laws to be broken..
    • What ever do you mean? (22/11/2020, 15:50) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      You make it sound like BVIs is land where no laws a broken...Exhibit 1 More than 2000 kg of cocaine in a storage container in Tortola recently discovered, Exhibit 2, illegals discovered with 10s of Kgs of cocaine, same island, and so on.
  • burn (20/11/2020, 19:38) Like (3) Dislike (8) Reply
    How them talking about illegal entry, the queen of england and all her associates are illegally practicing in islands that belong to the natives. Now since when the sea water belongs to the BVI, criminals right in front u. They fine 20,000 is any given to the native of the land?
  • Ghost (20/11/2020, 22:03) Like (10) Dislike (3) Reply
    I’ve read all of the comments on this article - the truth is it doesn’t matter whom it is; if that boat or vessel is illegally in BVI waters and that fine is their punishment for doing so then yes.. “ignorance of the Law is no excuse” for wrong doing- any good lawyer will tell u this.. what’s our goal here?- Safety for one .to prevent persons coming to our shores illegally to prevent the potential spread of this deadly virus. Losing 1 soul is too much .. we have to remain vigilant on all fronts. So guess what regardless of their reason(s) for being there if they were wrong they needed to be fined.. at times a price not paid in blood is easily forgotten.. sad but true..
  • absurd (21/11/2020, 09:35) Like (5) Dislike (3) Reply
    Ignorance of the law and all that, but there is no demarcation zone on the sea, GPS signals are variable in accuracy, and so forth. Assuming there was no proof of intention to land and no contraband aboard, I’d have gone with a stern warning, a $500 fine maybe, and sent them packing. A $ 20K fine, while perhaps justifiable, just sends another inhospitable message. Basically, all we want is the outside dollar, not the people, not their boats, just the money.
  • Boat Jail (22/11/2020, 13:24) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    I am on the detained vessel. We were out day sailing and accidentally cross over the line while tacking. As soon as our captain realized it we immediately headed back. The customs officials knew this due to our direction. What’s really sad is they have tied us to a dock, have strung us along and refused to help in any way. When we ask they smile and say pay $20,000. The youngest on board is 60y.o. We all get the laws but this is excessive as there was NO intention of heading to BVI. We were headed to a spot on ST John.
    • booboo (23/11/2020, 00:54) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      We’re all praying for a safe and quick return
    • Sandshark2 (23/11/2020, 19:21) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Thinking of you all. Seems incredibly excessive! If they are trying to make a point they should have picked on someone who had intent to violate the law.
  • Excessive treatment (24/11/2020, 08:34) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Yes they accidentally crossed the boarder and yes you can legally fine them $20,000. But I for one will not be visiting the BVI when they open if this is the way you treat fellow sailors!
  • Outsider (24/11/2020, 11:17) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    I am one of those outsiders that have come to spend more that’s $20K multiple times in your economy. Unless there was firm proof of their intent to “go to Willy T”, your customs officials just cost you a lot of “outsider” dollars from coming the way, those dollars pay for your jobs. Oh, and Boarding their boat and bringing them into port is not “keeping you safe from the virus. Your economy is built on tourism... Try to remember that foreigners like me donated a lot of money to various BVI hurricane relief efforts in 2018. You live in a beautiful country and I enjoyed my time with many of your friendly citizens.... attitudes here seem to say spend my money and time elsewhere. Cheers.
    • captmatty (24/11/2020, 22:49) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      Agreed. I have truly enjoyed staying in the BVIs and have cleared in and out of immigrations and customs multiple times. I spent a lot of money over the years (there are some very helpful businesses in Nanny Cay). I also donated to hurricane relief. It pains me to say it, but there are many beautiful islands in the Caribbean. The simple solution is to bypass the BVIs. Sailors and tourists have long memories and this will be a sore point for years to come. In spite of all of the comments here no one is saying the BVIs don't have the right to protect their their citizens from COVID. I just expect that reasonable precautions and warnings without fines would serve to provide that protection. So, good on you BVIs. I won't be coming back and I will encourage my fellow sailors to spend their money elsewhere in the Caribbean.
  • Sailing (25/11/2020, 12:58) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply has posted a warning not to go into BVI territorial waters. So has the Salty Dawg Rally. So boats now know not to go to the British Virgin Islands, even on "Innocent Passage". Will take time to change that perception, a lot of advertising dollars by BVI businesses. Kind of like a shark attack..even a rumor and beaches empty out fast.
  • LaLa (25/11/2020, 17:24) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    great way to treat their bread and butter. When they need help after a hurricane is fine . Now we are punished for basically nothing. Locals do a lot of worse things and what happens to them? Covid time will be great for changes: go somewhere else! Abuse is the only word I can think of it! There's a lot of better places to be.
  • JoWin (27/11/2020, 14:31) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Innocent passage a part of UNCLOS. BVI is a signee. That is you can pass through any territorial water unless it is closed for a military exercise etc. and listed on UNCLOS lost of restrictions. Also, you are allowed to stop for an emergency. If you stop to go snorkelling it os not innocent unless it is to clear a rope around the propeller etc. The article does not provide enough information on what the yacht actually was doing. If it was just passing through the BVI is at fault. If it was anchoring doing leisure activities, then the yacht crew is at fault. Detaining, if you want to quarantine, however, is counterproductive, send on their way makes more sense.
  • Oldman (27/11/2020, 21:01) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Shame shame just for the sake of money covid 20 scamps
  • BHR (28/11/2020, 16:41) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain ratified the UNCLOS treaty on July 25, 1978 guaranteeing to all foreign vessels the right of innocent passage. No provision of the treaty permits the treatment of foreign vessels like this and the BVI government is clearly in violation of the treaty. Territorial waters may not be closed, except in certain limited circumstances, none of which applied here.

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