Customs officers are a real target for traffickers, as their job puts them in direct contact with goods, actors and money. Although there is an inspectorate of services in the customs corps, as in the police or the gendarmerie, it is nevertheless difficult to obtain a figure on what the phenomenon of corruption within this administration may represent.
Corruption cases most often come to the fore by chance, when the "crooked" appear on the fringes of surveillance or judicial wiretapping. For example, in March 2023, a customs officer at Roissy airport, who had marched on the Champs-Élysées on July 14, was arrested on suspicion of having helped traffickers import cocaine from South America for two years. Before his post at Roissy, the official worked at the port of Le Havre, although it is not known whether he had ever been involved in corruption.
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Today, Thomas Cazeneuve, the Minister Delegate for Public Accounts, is launching an anti-corruption prevention plan on the basis of an audit carried out a few months ago by the Customs Services Inspectorate and the General Finance Inspectorate. Three axes are chosen.
Mandatory transfers for the most sensitive positions
The first involves raising awareness and training customs officers on the risk of corruption. The aim is to alert agents to the techniques of approaching traffickers and to warn them about the dangers of escalation, pressure, threats and violence that agents and their families may incur. At the same time, this plan envisages making it mandatory for agents to move to the most sensitive posts in ports.
The second axis consists of strengthening internal controls by agents after container searches, in particular by making these controls more random. Finally, the third measure advocated greater responsiveness in administrative sanctions in the event of suspicions of corruption, while encouraging the emergence of potential whistleblowers within customs.