Contraband cigarettes found in God of Fortune figurines

Officers discovered a total of 11,285 cartons and 7,685 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes found hidden inside the figurines.
Officers discovered a total of 11,285 cartons and 7,685 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes found hidden inside the figurines.PHOTOS: IMMIGRATION & CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY/FACEBOOK

At first glance, the plump, gold ingot-wielding figurines look like the benevolent, smiling Chinese God of Fortune.

But officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) were not easily taken in when carrying out X-ray checks.

They discovered a total of 11,285 cartons and 7,685 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes hidden inside the 2m-tall figurines on a Malaysia-registered lorry at Woodlands Checkpoint last Wednesday.

In a Facebook post on Saturday on how the attempt to smuggle the contraband cigarettes was foiled, ICA said its officers noticed anomalies in the X-ray images of the Chinese New Year-related figurines transported by the lorry entering Singapore.

"This method of concealment is a cause for concern as similar methods may be used by people with ill intent to smuggle security items into Singapore," said ICA in its post.

The authority has referred the case to Singapore Customs for further investigations.

"The ICA will continue to conduct security checks on passengers, goods and vehicles so as to safeguard Singapore's security," it said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2021, with the headline 'Contraband cigarettes found in God of Fortune figurines'. Subscribe