|Founded in||c. 2380-2438|
The Customs Bureau is a UEE government agency responsible for regulating trade within UEE space. It is overshadowed by its larger Trade & Development Division, which has taken over many of the responsibilities of the Bureau since its founding.
By 2380, the Croshaw system had been terraformed and the first settlements outside of the Sol system had taken hold. Unfortunately, as Humanity’s frontier expanded in the following decades, so too did its lawlessness. With entire new solar systems for pirates to hide in, Sol found itself on the receiving end of an overwhelming influx of contraband. Outlawed weapons and substances that had been close to eradication came flooding back in force now that criminals could hide their operations with relative ease in remote extra-system outposts. Major urban areas on Mars and Earth faced escalating violent crimes and a rampant drug epidemic that decimated several communities. When attempts to curtail the dire situation via more traditional policing methods failed to stymie the growing problem, the UNE ordered the Navy to establish strict checkpoints at both jump entrances leading to Sol.
Within the first months of the operation, hundreds of tonnes of contraband were seized and dozens arrested. However, despite this initial success in stemming the tide of illegal goods making their way into Sol, there were many detractors. Vehement protest came from almost every major financial sector, arguing that while the heavy patrols were netting smugglers, the searches also slowed down the regular civilian transports and haulers, strangling the flow of commerce. At the same time, civil rights groups were quick to decry the draconian measures used by the Navy in forcing vehicles to comply with the scans and searches. In one incident, heavily reported at the time, a team of researchers were forcefully subdued and dragged off their ship when they refused to open scan-resistant containers that carried light-sensitive material. And this was far from the only such reported case of routine stops escalating to violence. Many argued that a Navy trained for warfare with an enemy force was not the ideal candidate for dealing with the civilian population in this capacity.
It would all come to a head when one of the members of Intersystem Haulers United was incarcerated in a Naval prison for impeding a search. A massive strike caused the majority of jump point traffic to slow to a crawl. At the end of a week of negotiations, it was announced that control of the checkpoints would be handed off to a new government office, the Customs Bureau.
Staffed by civilian employees, it proved to be a valid compromise between security and commerce. A program was established for expedited crossings for ships with a proven track record, and complex algorithms used to intelligently select ships for more in-depth searches reduced wait times while still keeping a firm check on contraband. At the start, the Bureau may have been mostly concerned about ship traffic inbound to Sol, but after first contact with the Banu in 2438, they greatly increased their scope. Wary of what Banu ships might be carrying within their haulers, the Customs Bureau spread throughout UNE-controlled space, establishing dozens of additional checkpoints along major traffic lanes. It was this far-reaching infrastructure that positioned the Bureau to take on an even greater responsibility.
Due to data delay and commodity and futures market manipulation, the Customs Bureau founded the Trade & Development Division (TDD) in 2463 after false information was delivered to the Angeli Mercantile Exchange causing millet prices to skyrocket and almost triggering a market crash. The new TDD utilized the data gathered by the Bureau and expanded upon it, and eventually overshadowed the Customs Bureau in both scope and responsibility.