The activity of the air-sea component against illegal trafficking: the “police of the sea”
The Guardia di Finanza has the exclusive function of economic and financial police at sea, giving its support in maintaining public order and security and combating illegal trafficking. This is part of a unitary system, where air-sea departments steadily interact with the territorial and special ones, exchanging information and planning joined interventions.
In particular, the air-sea departments give a fundamental contribute in achieving the goals set up yearly for the Guardia di Finanza by the Ministry of economy and finance, ensuring:
- economic control of the coast, sea and inland waters, along with the monitoring of the airspace above;
- support to the custom police activities for the surveillance of the maritime traffic and for the struggle against counterfeiting and imported illegal goods;
- struggle against the improper use of energy products with excise duties facilitations;
- employment of “black labor” on board;
- investigations about illegal receipts of funding coming from the State and the European Union provided to operators in maritime and fisheries sectors, funding provided to renew boats and aquaculture facilities, re-train personnel at sea and tear down fishing vessels;
- contribute to prevention and repression of offences against environment and public domain, thanks to the technologies installed on planes and to the specific collaboration initiatives between research institutes.
The role of police at sea was fostered by the legislative decree n. 177 of 2016, further outlined by the decree of the Interior Minister on 5 august 2017 regarding the directive about law enforcements’ specific tasks.
This last measure established that the Guardia di Finanza is the only one in charge of operating at sea, due to the intervention’s prerogatives, the availability of naval fleet, as well as an organizational structure, which are able to guarantee the application of its functions.
The operative tasks assigned to the Guardia di Finanza at sea basically are:
- contrast to the illicit trafficking, such as tobacco smuggling, drug and human trafficking by international criminal organizations, thought a close synergy between air-sea Units with the territorial and special ones;
- protection of public order and security, according to the directives issued by central and local security authorities;
- surveillance of maritime borders, also in order to combat the illegal immigration;
- participation in international operations carried out by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, known as Frontex.
Furthermore, the air-sea component of the Corps:
- supports the maritime police to ensure the proper and secure carrying out of operations at port and at territorial sea, as well as in secure navigation sectors, research and maritime rescue;
- carries out controls of fishing police against illegal fishing to ensure free and fair competition.
In addition, the above-mentioned legislative decree assigned to the Guardia di Finanza the surveillance of territorial waters which borders are linked to the natural protected areas, in order to prevent and repress possible illicit behaviors through the provision of naval units and personnel belonging to the previous forest service of the State.