Gibraltar accuses Spain of ‘violating its sovereignty’ after incident involving two customs officers

Image of Gibraltar. Credit: Migel/

After two Customs officers entered Gibraltar territory while pursuing suspected tobacco smugglers, the Rock’s Government has accused Spain of ‘violating its sovereignty’.


The entry of two Spanish Customs Surveillance Service officers onto Gibraltar’s Levante beach while attempting to abort a cache of smuggled tobacco has today, Friday, February 3, been described by the Government of Gibraltar as a ‘very serious breach’ of its sovereignty and jurisdiction.

During the intervention by the two Spanish officers in the early hours of Thursday morning, they were injured to varying degrees after being hit with stones by a group of people allegedly linked to tobacco smuggling.

This intervention “would constitute a very serious breach of the law”, if “it were confirmed that the Spanish officers fired their weapons in Gibraltar”, said the Government. It was also a “reckless and dangerous” action in an area, they stressed, “with a high density of civilian population, given the proximity of a residential development”.

In this context, the Gibraltar and UK governments considered that the events “will require careful assessment as to the nature and level of the diplomatic response”. They explained that they “will contact Spanish officials to seek clarification on this violation of Gibraltar’s sovereignty before making a final decision on the action to be taken”.

“The evidence surrounding this incident reveals a serious violation of British sovereignty and potentially the most serious and dangerous incident for many years”, said Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo. However, he added that “before reacting” they will “be sure of the facts. But, events indicate that the actions of the Spanish officials are intolerable”, he criticised.

As explained to Europa Press by Customs Surveillance sources, the events occurred shortly after 5am when an auxiliary boat of the Surveillance patrol boat observed movement that could be related to tobacco smuggling in waters near the Gibraltar fence.

The agents experienced problems in their boat and while on the eastern beach of Gibraltar, they were surrounded by a group of people who began to throw stones at them, some of which were very large. Eventually, they were able to refloat the boat and reach the patrol boat by rowing.

However, both officers suffered injuries to their faces, including a broken nasal septum for one of them and several broken bones in the face of the second, who required hospitalisation. In addition, several cuts required stitches, as reported by

The Gibraltar government explained that they had contacted their Spanish counterparts “to inquire about the welfare of the VAS officers concerned. Spanish law enforcement agencies know that they can request and rely on the support of Gibraltarian law enforcement agencies if they need to continue a pursuit in Gibraltar, but it appears that they have not done so in this case”, they insisted.

“The illegal activity of a gang of individuals apparently engaged in unlawful acts in Gibraltar is unacceptable and represents an activity that the Government and law enforcement agencies of Gibraltar will not tolerate”, the statement added.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at