Would you own a weapon

10 questions to ask a customs officer you would never dare ask

Daniel * gets on a lot of people's nerves in his job. Either you are stuck in a traffic jam in front of the Swiss border because Daniel's colleagues take every VW bus driver apart with dreadlocks. Or you sit in the coach on the way to a techno festival and watch the drug dogs look for coke and weed. Or the favorite restaurant around the corner had to close because Daniel arrested a few illegal workers because Daniel is at customs.

"I'm glad I'm at customs. But there are a lot of places that are pretty boring," says Daniel. "You just sit in the office and do paperwork." But he was lucky. In the field, he wears a gun and uniform, checks companies for possible illegal work, searches villas of alleged tax evaders and seizes drugs.

Once he freed underage girls from Eastern Europe from forced prostitution, says Daniel: "There were condoms on the floor everywhere. The girls were scared, intimidated and totally exhausted. Next door we took away the clients who looked like my grandpa." We have questions.

Symbol photo: imago | photo library

VICE: How lazy can you really be as a civil servant?
Daniel: It's been a relaxed life. I have a secure job and the salary is okay at just under 2,400 euros net. The pressure to perform is not that great. With investigators in particular, it is difficult to understand how much we actually work, as every procedure is different. I travel a lot in the field, but there are days in the office when I do next to nothing when I'm not in the mood. That would not work in the free economy. Of course, that doesn't work in the field, you always have to stay “on point”.

How do you trick your drug dogs?
This is difficult. They are extremely good and really find a lot. People wrap their drugs in wax, aluminum, soak them in gasoline and the dogs find it, even if it's only a few grams. I wouldn't dare smuggle anything past a dog.

Do you feel powerful because you are wearing a uniform and a gun?
I am happy to be wearing a uniform. So that people understand that we are an authority that cannot be trifled with. The external impact of the weapon is very important. When people see you, you can see how respected you are. Our colleagues in tax investigations, for example, also search apartments, like we do, but they don't carry weapons and often have problems because they are taken less seriously. Fortunately, I've never had to use my gun before and I hope it stays that way.

Also at VICE: An undercover agent talks about his past

Would you like to shoot your gun around wildly sometimes?
I am fortunate that we practice shooting regularly. You can agree with the shooting trainer which exercise you want to do: action-oriented shooting at moving images, precision shooting, shooting from cover and much more. Of course, it's still monitored by the coaches, but it's just fun and I'm really looking forward to it every time.

Have you already worn your uniform to have sex?
No, but the handcuffs have been used before.

Do you sometimes let seized goods go with you?
No, I would never do that, the administration is absolutely no joke. We always secure evidence in front of the accused. Even so, you probably wouldn't notice if you were to shred a few grams of weed or something like that. The seized drugs are then sent to chemistry laboratories, where they are examined, and finally they are taken to the evidence room and are burned at regular intervals.

Do you feel sorry for the people you arrest for undeclared work?
In our area of ​​responsibility, we often arrest asylum seekers. Poor pigs who just want to work, but are not legally allowed to. Because they do it anyway, they quickly find themselves in criminal proceedings and are therefore taken into custody for deportation. That can be a person who arrived only three weeks ago on a boat from which only three people survived. And now we're pushing him off again. But when we convict someone of a crime, my hands are tied. We're always in the group and I'd lose my job if I let anyone go.

There are a few people that stick on my mind. Those are those who, in the interrogations, reveal that they are just poor creatures, have been suppressed all their lives and have experienced a little luck here in Germany for the first time, after 20 years or more. When such people go to deportation custody, I often feel very sorry and I still think for a few days about how this person must feel when, for example, they are finally on the plane taking off. At the same time, I always notice how ridiculous my everyday problems are in comparison.

Symbol photo: imago | photo library

How cool do you think it is to get people who you think deserve it?
Especially when we search the houses of restaurant or pub owners, they can sometimes be very choleric people who are incredibly upset. We are happy that they will most likely have to pay back a big chunk of money to the state.

Especially when you see the blatant booths of them. There are often great treasures to be found there. Heated pools in the basement, safes with expensive jewelry, Rolex watches that cost at least 50,000 euros and huge fleets of luxury cars. Finally, I was able to take the elevator from the hallway to a 100-square-meter garage to search through several Mercedes-AMGs and a Ferrari.

Do you enjoy rummaging through other people's private things?
Sometimes it's entertaining. During another house search I once found a 60 centimeter long dildo on an elderly woman. A huge part, as long as my forearm. I pulled it out of the closet and at first thought it was a baseball bat. Then I saw the tip and laughed out loud. The accused took it with humor.

But there are also less amusing searches. I once searched the house of a restaurant owner who was dealing at the same time. He was totally on it and at the end of the search threatened my private life, outside of duty. Fortunately, I haven't seen him since, but I often drive past his restaurant. I'm sure not going to eat there anymore.

Have you ever bypassed a store knowing that people work there illegally?
When inspecting restaurants from the Far East, you can usually be sure that something is wrong. Unfortunately, that sounds a bit generalized, but especially with these restaurants it is a classic that the owners bring relatives or friends from home with a vacation visa to Germany in order to employ them in their restaurants. They like to work below the minimum wage, sometimes for 3 euros an hour, because they would still be paid significantly less in their home country. The processing of such cases is always very time-consuming and if it is shortly before the end of work, then it is better to drive around these shops, otherwise you will not come home at all. The companies are then of course checked in the following week.

* Name changed

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