Crossings of contraband “mules” at the Tarajal II border will remain indefinitely suspended, the Spanish government has decided.
Although it was expected that the contraband crossings, suspended since July 25, will be resumed starting September 3, the Spanish government confirmed that this activity will be interrupted until further notice.
El Faro de Ceuta reported earlier today that the suspension of these crossings will not affect the crossing of people, tourists, and cars.
The government noted in a press release that the contraband activity will be resumed once technicians determine that the border’s infrastructure is safe enough for these activities.
The suspension decision aims to enhance the fluidity of the border for the entry and exit of neighboring tourists, according to Ceutaactualidad.
Moroccan authorities agreed on the decision in order to facilitate the Moroccan diaspora’s return to their countries of residence, especially as it coincides with Eid al-Adha.
Possible end of contraband crossings?
The decision brings back to public attention the longstanding controversy surrounding the Ceuta-Morocco merchandise smuggling.
In February 2019, the director-general of the Moroccan Administration of Customs and Indirect Taxation, Nabil Lajdar, said that he supports a “radical” solution to “definitively” put an end to contraband border crossings with Melilla and Ceuta.
Speaking at the Moroccan House of Representatives, Lajdar said that the prohibition of the entry of smuggled products into Morocco could be done gradually over the next five or ten years.
Lajdar estimated the value of the products entering through the Ceuta border between MAD 6,000 and 8,000 million per year (between 550 and 730 million euros).
In terms of taxes, this is the equivalent of a loss of MAD 2,000 and 3,000 million (between 180 and 270 million euros). “These are amounts that the State treasury loses, and if we add Melilla’s case, the figure is doubled,” he said.
Lajdar also stated that this “acceptable” activity is now attracting people from central and northern Morocco. El Faro de Ceuta suspects that this “temporary” suspension of contraband activity may be the start of the actual end of this Moroccan-Spanish commercial activity.