Key member of cigarette smuggling syndicate who jumped bail sentenced to 5 years' jail

In 2013, Ibrahim and his four accomplices were arrested by Singapore Customs officers in a warehouse at Kallang Avenue for smuggling about 14,400 cartons of cigarettes. 
In 2013, Ibrahim and his four accomplices were arrested by Singapore Customs officers in a warehouse at Kallang Avenue for smuggling about 14,400 cartons of cigarettes. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS
The warehouse in Loyang Crescent where more than 3,000 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes, hidden in modified bed headboards imported from Batam, were found in June.
The warehouse in Loyang Crescent where more than 3,000 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes, hidden in modified bed headboards imported from Batam, were found in June.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS

SINGAPORE - A key member of a cigarette smuggling syndicate was sentenced to five years in jail on Tuesday ( Dec 15) for his involvement in contraband cigarette activities.

Singapore Customs said in a statement on Friday (Dec 18) that Ibrahim Saleh, 45, a Singaporean, had been on the run for about two years. He pleaded guilty to two charges. Another two charges were taken into consideration in the sentencing.

The statement said that, in 2013, Ibrahim and his four accomplices were arrested by Singapore Customs officers in a warehouse at Kallang Avenue for smuggling about 14,400 cartons of cigarettes. The duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded amounted to over $1.3 million.

One of his accomplices was sentenced in 2013 to 32 months' jail, while another was fined $1,000. But Ibrahim jumped bail and a warrant of arrest was issued against him.

On June 9 this year, he was nabbed in Johor by Malaysian police and handed back to Singapore on the same day.

The next day, Singapore Customs officers raided a warehouse in Loyang Crescent and seized about 3,000 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes, which were hidden in modified bed headboards imported from Batam. The duty and GST involved amounted to more than $309,000.

Five Singaporean men and one Indonesian man were sentenced to between 26 months and 33 months in jail for their role in this case, which was coordinated by Ibrahim in Batam.

"Such smuggling activities undermine the integrity of Singapore's trading system," said Mr Yeo Sew Meng, Singapore Customs assistant director-general (Intelligence and Investigation) in the statement.

"We will spare no effort in hunting down criminals on the run and going after syndicates which attempt to smuggle cigarettes into Singapore."

Members of the public with information on smuggling activities or evasion of customs

duty or GST can contact the Singapore Customs on 1800-233-0000 or email customs_intelligence@customs.gov.sg.

limyihan@sph.com.sg