PICTURES

More than 17,600 cartons of contraband cigarettes seized in year's second-largest haul

The four men who were retrieving contraband cigarettes from the four fibre tanks and packing them into bags on Dec 3, 2013, were arrested by Singapore Customs officers. A total of 17,393 cartons and eight packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were r
The four men who were retrieving contraband cigarettes from the four fibre tanks and packing them into bags on Dec 3, 2013, were arrested by Singapore Customs officers. A total of 17,393 cartons and eight packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were retrieved and seized in this operation. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
Duty-unpaid cigarettes hidden in specially-constructed fibre tanks. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
Duty-unpaid cigarettes hidden in specially-constructed fibre tanks. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
245 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were recovered from the Singapore-registered car on Nov 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
245 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were recovered from the Singapore-registered car on Nov 27, 2013. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
Duty-unpaid cigarettes were found hidden in compartments of the Singapore-registered car on Nov 27, 2013. Singapore Customs officers seized more than 17,600 cartons of contraband cigarettes worth more than $1.6 million in the authority's second large
Duty-unpaid cigarettes were found hidden in compartments of the Singapore-registered car on Nov 27, 2013. Singapore Customs officers seized more than 17,600 cartons of contraband cigarettes worth more than $1.6 million in the authority's second largest haul this year. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Singapore Customs officers seized more than 17,600 cartons of contraband cigarettes worth more than $1.6 million in the authority's second largest haul this year.

The two operations on Nov 27 and Dec 3 led to the arrests of five men, disrupting the distribution network of two syndicates.

The total duty and Goods and Services Tax evaded for the total of 17,638 cartons and eight packets of contraband cigarettes seized was more than $1.3 million.

"Syndicates will always try to come up with new and clever ways of hiding and smuggling cigarettes into Singapore. We will stay ahead of the game, and strike at the right time to disrupt their illegal activities," said Mr Yeo Sew Meng, Assistant Director-General for Intelligence and Investigation of the Singapore Customs.

"These seizures of contraband cigarettes underscore Singapore Customs' strong determination to do whatever it takes to bring smugglers to justice," he added.

On Nov 27, 2013, Customs officers laid an ambush outside a warehouse at Soon Lee Street, near Pioneer Road North. This led to the arrest of a 54-year-old Singaporean man as he was retrieving cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes from his car.

Based on intel, another operation was mounted six days later at another warehouse along the same street. One Malaysian and three Vietnamese men were arrested as they were retrieving cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes hidden in fibre tanks and packing them into bags.

This is the authority's second-largest overall haul this year, and the largest inland haul, following the seizure of 18,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes in an operation at Jurong Port on Jan 23, 2013.