8,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes seized at Tuas, Woodlands checkpoints

SINGAPORE - Close to 8,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes were seized mid-week by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers at the Tuas and Woodlands.

The earlier case took place on Wednesday afternoon when ICA officers directed a 32-year-old Malaysian at the Tuas Checkpoint for a routine check.

The Malaysia-registered lorry he was driving was declared to be transporting consignments of garment and thermal paper.

However, during the inspection officers found unlabelled boxes containing cartons of duty unpaid cigarettes hidden away.More contraband cigarettes were discovered packed in boxes and stacked in five different pallets.

In total, 5,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes with an estimated value of about $533,000 were found. This is the single largest haul of contraband cigarettes in both quantity and value at the Tuas Checkpoint this year, ICA said in a statement.

In a separate case, ICA officers at the Woodlands Checkpoint found 2,999 cartons of contraband cigarettes hidden in a consignment of vegetables on Thursday morning. The 29-year-old Malaysian, who was travelling alone in a Malaysia-registered lorry, was stopped for a check when the officers observed anomalies in the scanned image of the consignment.

The estimated value of the duty-unpaid cigarettes found is about $319,700.

In both cases, the men, the seized exhibits and the lorries were handed over to Singapore Customs for further investigations. Vehicles used in the commission of such offences are liable to be forfeited.

A spokesman for ICA said in a statement: "The security checks are critical to our nation's security... The same methods of concealment used by contraband smugglers may be used by terrorists to smuggle arms and explosives to carry out attacks in Singapore."