Customs in Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego, controls on gas exports are done through 10-year-old legislation. This is Resolution 588/99 of the Federal Administration of Public Revenue (AFIP, for its acronym in Spanish), which includes provisions on a measurement known as AGA (American Gas Association) number 3. According to a report by the General Audit Office (AGN, for its acronym in Spanish) this international regulation is "outdated" since it is in its eleventh version.

"This results in limitations on the audit," says the watchdog and highlights that, although the same Resolution 588/99 stated in its preamble that the National Gas Regulatory Authority should take into account changes in the forms of measurement resulting from technological advances, "in recent years these developments have occurred both in new technologies and in improving the (already) used in Argentina, without having been incorporated into the regulations".

The Audit inspected a Conveyor Gas del Sur (TGS) measurement Station in Rio Grande where, precisely, exports are carried through the pipeline linking the Special Customs Area, actually, Tierra del Fuego with the mainland. In that study it was found that "gas measurement systems and its software, have not been validated by the established supervisory body (the National Institute of Industrial Technology -INTI-), nor are they available to the customs agency in operation”. Moreover, these measurements are "remote" because both the offices of TGS and the "flow computers, chromatograph controllers, and orifice plates are sealed by Customs and are in the measurement station San Sebastian 80 kilometers away. Thus, the audit is "transmitted and received permanently by software TGS, who then loads data into spreadsheets subsequently validated by customs agents." Therefore, the report says that accepting the retransmitted data, rather than being taken directly from the pipeline, "implies the need for there to audit (on) the security and integrity of the systems and programs that receive, process, and generate this information.”

Also in Rio Grande, the AGN found that there is "no computer system" to control the hostages or lag elements, "the inventory is manual" and there merchandise has been stocked for eight years.

The audit report also mentions the observations made at the Ushuaia office. The border crossing Puerto Almanza, for example, "was enabled in 1991 but was never found in operating status because it does not have an enabled port specified under the provisions of Law 24093 (which regulates aspects related to public ports and private ports). According to the technicians, “the Primary Zone was enabled (in 1998) but the reference pier does not exist."

In addition, "a significant dispersion was observed in the rules governing the Special Customs Area, which provides the appearance of areas of doubtful applicability, leading to possible discretionary practices. We observed -the report continues- that some agents are unaware of the Customs Code, for lack of adequate rating and apparent lack of motivation for training."

Moreover, a survey in Section Summaries Customs found that, of the 22 criminal cases filed, "12 were dismissed due to prescription." With this data, the AGN inferred that "it is possible to think about the possibility of claims being dismissed in these conditions." AGN also analyzed two cases of smuggling, which "show that, given the considerable time spent in court proceedings and in the late spurt of customs legal management, there has been a court extravagance that distorts all purposes of punishment and that, to be truly effective and efficient, requiring less time between the occurrence and the conviction.”

Information System Maria

Both in Río Grande and Ushuaia, the Audit found that "the information available on the SIM (Mary Information System) for customs control is underutilized, as in Extraordinary Services (overtime) there are delays for a computer system that could control the operation", adding: "After more than 15 years after its implementation, the system still does not allow the liquidation of Special Services at Customs, which prevents not only the final control the operation performed on a non-schedule, but also the direct charge to users of the expenses incurred by their operations." Also, "the overlap of working hours has been observed, the hours worked and the hours of commute overlap, which means that special services are being charged.


En cuanto a los perros que prestan servicios en las Aduanas de Tierra del Fuego, los técnicos remarcaron que “la compra de los canes se realizó en varios casos por caja chica, hecho que imposibilita al análisis de antecedentes de los criadores proveedores; hay una importante dispersión de sumas pagadas (por los animales), que oscilan entre los $ 400 y los $ 7000; en las respectivas facturas de compra remitidas a esta auditoría, no consta detallada ninguna característica técnica, a saber: edad, sexo, determinación del pedigrí, si tienen ‘aptitudes’ para la detección de estupefacientes ni cuál es el criterio de selección”. No obstante, se advierte un “posible incumplimiento” de la Ley 14.346, sobre actos de crueldad contra los animales, específicamente en el inciso 5 de su artículo 2, que considera un maltrato el estímulo con drogas sin perseguir fines terapéuticos. Los auditores descubrieron que “los manguitos (objetos de búsqueda usados como señuelo educativo) se preparan con anticipación y se guardan juntamente con el estupefaciente que se va a emplear en el adiestramiento”.

As for dogs working at Customs in Tierra del Fuego, technicians remarked that "the purchase of the dogs was conducted in several cases by petty cash, this made it impossible to analyze history of the breeders; there is a significant dispersion of sums paid (for animals), ranging between $ 400 and $ 7,000; in the respective purchase invoices submitted to this audit there isn’t any detailed technical feature of age, sex, pedigree determination, if they have 'skills' for the detection of drugs or what selection criteria is used." However, a "possible breach" of Law 14.346, of acts of cruelty to animals, specifically in paragraph 5 of Article 2, which warns of giving animals drugs as stimulus without pursuing therapeutic purposes. Auditors found that "the sleeves (used as search objects educational decoy) were prepared beforehand and stored together with the drug that will be used during training"