Arab Today, arab today gibraltar chases seaborne tobacco smugglers
Last Updated : GMT 06:27:20
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Gibraltar chases sea-borne tobacco smugglers

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Gibraltar chases sea-borne tobacco smugglers

Spain - AFP

Tobacco smugglers Miguel and Jaime keep their heads down as they race across the waves on a jet ski with a chasing Gibraltar police patrol boat close behind. This is the thrilling side of widespread smuggling of cigarettes from the tiny, low-tax British outpost to Spain, and it is one more irritant in their frayed diplomatic relations. The smuggling is not without risk, but even small rewards are sufficient for youngsters with no hope of a job in recession-hit Spain, where the unemployment rate tops 26 percent. As Miguel and Jaime approach the safety of the Spanish shore, the Gibraltar police boat tries to cut them off and block them against a jetty. But the jet ski swerves out of the way, narrowly escaping the police but losing a precious cargo of cigarettes which tumble into the sea. \"They almost killed us,\" says Miguel, arriving at the beach of La Linea de la Concepcion, a small, poor town in southern Spain that lies just over the border from the tiny British territory of Gibraltar. \"We go at top speed but the jet ski is old and can\'t get up to 30 knots (35 miles, 55 kilometres per hour),\" says his 29-year-old partner in crime, Jaime, his head covered with a bandana like a pirate.

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