ICA foils bid to smuggle 600 cartons of duty unpaid cigarettes hidden in air-conditioners

This is the second time in less than three weeks where officers had detected a similar method of smuggling, the ICA said. PHOTO: IMMIGRATION & CHECKPOINTS AUTHORITY/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers foiled an attempt to smuggle 600 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes into the Republic in a consignment declared as "air-conditioning".

This is the second time in less than three weeks where its officers had detected a similar method of smuggling, ICA said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Dec 30).

Its officers at the ICA scanning station at Pasir Panjang had noticed anomalies in the scanned images of the container that had air-conditioning units. Together with Singapore Customs, they then unstuffed the container at the importer's premises.

The case has been referred to Singapore Customs for further investigation.

As of December, more than 463,000 packets of illegal cigarettes have been seized this year, hidden in everything from ventilation fans and mattresses, to Chinese God of Fortune figurines.

Checks by The Straits Times on ICA's social media accounts found that there were at least 24 attempts to smuggle duty-unpaid cigarettes into Singapore since January this year, where 44,840 cartons and another 14,832 packets were seized.

ICA said safeguarding Singapore's borders remains its top priority.

It added: "Similar concealment methods may also be used by terrorists to smuggle security items into Singapore. ICA will continue to conduct security checks to detect and deter smuggling attempts so as to keep Singapore safe."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.