SINGAPORE - More than 1,300 cartons of contraband cigarettes were seized and five men were arrested by the Singapore Customs in two operations.
The first operation was held on Tuesday evening (June 26), when officers from the Singapore Customs kept watch on a storeroom at the void deck of a Housing Board block in Woodlands Circle.
The storeroom was suspected to be used to store illegal cigarettes, said the Singapore Customs in a statement on Thursday.
Officers then saw a Bangladeshi man, who had arrived in a taxi, coming out from the store room. They conducted checks and found a total of 386 cartons and 740 packets of contraband cigarettes from the store room and the taxi.
The man was arrested, along with another Bangladeshi man inside the taxi.
At the same time, another team of officers were conducting an operation at a Housing Board block in Tampines Street 34. They stopped two Chinese nationals who were pushing a trolley laden with brown boxes and a canvas bag, heading towards a Singapore-registered car parked near the block, at the void deck.
Officers discovered 265 cartons and 170 packets of contraband cigarettes, and another 738 cartons and 506 packets in a follow-up search of a flat at the block.
The two Chinese nationals and a Singaporean who was driving the car were arrested.
From the seized cartons and packets of cigarettes, the total amount of duty and Goods and Services Tax evaded amounted to more than $140,000, said the Singapore Customs.
One of the Chinese nationals is facing charges in court, while investigations are ongoing against the other four men.
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 convicted can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, and/or jailed for up to six years.
Repeat offenders caught with more than 2kg of tobacco products will also face imprisonment.
Members of public with information on smuggling activities or evasion of Customs duty or GST can call the Singapore Customs hotline on 1800-2330000, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or use Customs@SG mobile app to report illegal activities.
Correction note: An earlier version of this story said the total amount of Goods and Services Tax evaded was more than $140,000. This amount also includes duty evaded. We are sorry for the error.