The Maldives Customs Service has announced the establishment of a new section dedicated to maritime surveillance and border security. Named the ‘Maritime Surveillance and Border Protection Section’, this initiative is designed to intensify efforts in combating drug trafficking into the Maldives, along with other border-related crimes.

Operated under the Directorate of Enforcement and Border Security, the new section aims to fortify the surveillance of maritime areas and vessels falling under the jurisdiction of Customs. It is part of a broader strategy to curb the flow of illicit drugs and enforce the Maldives’ maritime laws more effectively.

To support the operations of this newly established section, Customs is in the process of designing a distinct logo and uniform, alongside the procurement of vessels and additional resources essential for its operations. The section’s core mandates include conducting operations to intercept drug trafficking, monitoring maritime areas using advanced surveillance technologies such as drones, and collaborating with the Maldives National Defence Force’s (MNDF) Coastguard to enforce maritime laws.

The authority has already taken steps to prepare for the launch of the Maritime Surveillance and Border Protection Section’s operations. This includes the acquisition of various vessels: a previously purchased patrol vessel; two 30-foot patrol vessels donated by the Japanese government, arriving in May; and an 85-foot patrol vessel, also a grant from Japan, expected in the first quarter of 2025. A series of training programmes have also been conducted, with further training scheduled in Japan for eight officers.

Engagement with international partners forms a crucial aspect of this initiative. Discussions with the Chinese Embassy in the Maldives and the United States’ Expedited Country and Related Border Security (EXBS) programme have led to agreements on support for acquiring vessels and other necessary resources. A special force is also being formed to operate within the new section, with members receiving specialised training in maritime enforcement, equipped to handle modern resources and equipment effectively.