11,400 cartons of contraband cigarettes, 5,000 sachets of chewing tobacco seized by authorities

7,500 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes and three Singapore-registered vehicles - a truck and two vans - that were used to transport the contraband cigarettes were seized on Sept 6, 2018.
7,500 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes and three Singapore-registered vehicles - a truck and two vans - that were used to transport the contraband cigarettes were seized on Sept 6, 2018.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS
A total of 3,900 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes and a Singapore-registered truck, from which the duty-unpaid cigarettes were being unloaded, were seized on Sept 4, 2018.
A total of 3,900 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes and a Singapore-registered truck, from which the duty-unpaid cigarettes were being unloaded, were seized on Sept 4, 2018.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CUSTOMS

SINGAPORE - A total of 11,400 cartons of contraband cigarettes were seized by the Singapore Customs in two operations carried out on two days last week.

The total duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded in both operations amounted to $1,061,340.

During the first operation last Tuesday evening (Sept 4), Singapore Customs officers raided a warehouse in a commercial building in Tuas View Place, after seeing three men moving green gunny sacks, suspected to contain duty-unpaid cigarettes, into the warehouse.

A total of 3,900 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes and a Singapore-registered truck, from which the duty-unpaid cigarettes were being unloaded, were seized.

Court proceedings against the three men, who are Singaporeans aged between 19 and 42, are ongoing.

Two days later, the Singapore Customs conducted a second operation in an industrial estate in Depot Lane. Three Singaporean men between the ages of 25 and 55, who had transferred duty-unpaid cigarettes from a truck to a van, were arrested last Thursday.

A fourth Singaporean man, 23, drove another van loaded with duty-unpaid cigarettes from Depot Lane to an open carpark in Seah Im Road before fleeing the scene.

 
 
 

He was later arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint on the same day.

This operation resulted in a seizure of 7,500 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes and three Singapore-registered vehicles - a truck and two vans - that were used to transport the contraband cigarettes.

Court proceedings against three of the men are ongoing, while the 55-year-old man is assisting Singapore Customs with investigations.

In a separate incident, officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) discovered 5,066 sachets of chewing tobacco in a 32-year-old Malaysian man's car on Monday.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the ICA said that the car, which was Malaysian-registered, had been referred for further checks when it arrived at Woodlands Checkpoint.

Officers found the sachets hidden in the rear bumper, left and right side skirting, and undercarriage of the car.

The case was referred to the Health Sciences Authority for further investigations.

In its post, the ICA said: "Our borders are our first line of defence in safeguarding Singapore's security.

"The ICA will continue to conduct security checks on passengers and vehicles at the checkpoints to prevent attempts to smuggle in undesirable persons, drugs, weapons, explosives and other (contraband)."

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.

Those caught can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded. They may also be jailed for up to six years.

Repeat offenders who are caught with more than 2kg of tobacco products will also face mandatory imprisonment. Vehicles used in the commission of such offences can also be forfeited.