Contraband cigarettes worth about $1.5m seized

Contraband cigarettes worth about $1.5m seized
WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN: The cartons of contraband cigarettes found in the lorry at Woodlands Checkpoint on Friday.

The Malaysian-registered lorry was supposed to be carrying potato chips.

But it was actually carrying something illegal. And worth a lot more.

Hidden in it was one of the largest consignments of contraband cigarettes caught here, worth about $1.5 million. The lorry, driven by a 36-year-old Malaysian man, arrived at Woodlands Checkpoint on Friday. It was stopped for a routine check soon after noon, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said yesterday.

Its officers found 14,519 cartons of contraband cigarettes hidden among 24 pallets of chips in the lorry.

The evaded duty alone would come up to about $1.1 million, ICA said. The Goods and Services tax would be another $100,000. The driver and the contraband were handed over to Singapore Customs for further investigations. The lorry was also seized. Vehicles used in the such offences are liable to be forfeited, ICA said.

"We 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," it said.

"The same methods of concealment used by contraband smugglers may be used by terrorists to smuggle arms and explosives to carry out attacks in Singapore." In January, four Malaysians were arrested for smuggling a similar load of cigarettes.

In that case, the contraband was hidden in a consignment of partition boards in a container.

One of the four men, the ringleader of the group, was jailed for three years. The others got slightly shorter terms.

This article was first published on September 07, 2014.
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