SINGAPORE - Anomalies detected in the scanned image of a 20-foot container led to the arrest of four men and the seizure of 9,081 cartons and eight packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes last Thursday (May 13).
The total duty and goods and services tax (GST) evaded amounted to about $776,550 and $62,280, respectively, Singapore Customs and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
The agencies said ICA officers at the Pasir Panjang scanning station had suspected that duty-unpaid cigarettes were hidden within the container after scanning it on May 12. They then alerted Singapore Customs.
The next day, Customs officers launched an operation at a store unit in an industrial building in Jalan Pemimpin. They saw three men entering the unit after four steel water tanks were unloaded from the container and moved into the unit.
The officers raided the unit and found duty-unpaid cigarettes concealed in the water tanks. Small quantities of duty-unpaid cigarettes and e-vaporiser pods were also found in a car belonging to one of the men. The car was parked outside the building.
A fourth man was arrested after a probe revealed that he was involved in the importation of the duty-unpaid cigarettes. The four men are aged between 24 and 48.
One man has been charged in court and ordered to be remanded until Friday for further investigation.
Investigations are ongoing for the other three suspects.
The agencies warned that buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, possessing and dealing with duty-unpaid goods are serious offences under the Customs Act and the GST Act.
The ICA said it will continue to conduct security checks at the checkpoints and work with other agencies to prevent smuggling attempts.
Offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, jailed for up to six years, or both.
Those with information on smuggling activities or evasion of Customs duty or GST can call the Singapore Customs hotline on 1800-233-0000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to report the illegal activities.