5 arrested, 18,000 illegal cigarettes seized

Four men and a woman who dealt with a total of 18,048 duty-unpaid cigarettes were arrested in a two-day joint operation by Singapore Customs and the Police Coast Guard (PCG).

Singapore Customs officials had first intercepted a lorry last Wednesday afternoon in Bukit Batok Street 21, in which they found 15,960 packets of cigarettes stored in styrofoam boxes. The driver, a 56-year-old man, was arrested and his lorry seized.

Investigations subsequently revealed that the boxes were loaded onto the lorry at Changi Creek from a boat registered to a coastal fish farm off Pulau Ubin.

Acting on this piece of information, PCG's intelligence and Loyang region officers identified the farm and mounted a joint operation with Singapore Customs in the early hours of Thursday morning. Two other fish farms were also raided.

The raids led to the recovery of 2,088 packets of cigarettes similarly stored in styrofoam boxes, as well as the seizure of a boat.

A 51-year-old man, two men aged 32 and a 50-year-old woman were also arrested at the fish farms.

The total duty and goods and services tax (GST) involved exceeded $154,000, said Singapore Customs and the Singapore Police Force in a joint press release.

They warned that buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty- unpaid goods are serious offences under the Customs Act and the GST Act.

Offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, and/or jailed for up to six years.

Correction Note: An earlier version of this story said that Singapore Customs officials first intercepted a lorry last Wednesday in Bukit Batok Street 31. It should be Street 21. It has been corrected. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2016, with the headline '5 arrested, 18,000 illegal cigarettes seized'. Print Edition | Subscribe