ICA foils attempts to smuggle $100k contraband cigarettes, tobacco

ICA foils attempts to smuggle $100k contraband cigarettes, tobacco
PHOTO: Immigration & Checkpoints Authority

SINGAPORE - Three attempts to smuggle contraband cigarettes and chewing tobacco into Singapore were foiled within a span of eight hours on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The Immigrations and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a statement that the alleged smugglers had hidden the illegal goods in different types of vehicles, including a bus, two lorries and one car. The same methods could also be used by terrorists to smuggle arms and explosives to carry out attacks in Singapore, ICA added.

Officers at Woodlands Checkpoint had first discovered contraband cigarettes in a Malaysia-registered bus with no passengers on Wednesday night. A 51-year-old male Malaysian man was driving the vehicle at the time.

A box containing contraband cigarettes was found wrapped in black plastic and hidden in the luggage compartment of the bus. Officers later uncovered four other boxes and two pails containing chewing tobacco in the bus.

A total of 125 cartons of contraband cigarettes and 2,400 sachets of chewing tobacco were found in the bus.

About six and half hours later on Thursday morning, two Malaysia-registered lorries driven by two Malaysian men, aged 47 and 28, were also directed for further checks at Woodlands Checkpoint. ICA officers uncovered three black plastic bundles containing chewing tobacco hidden in the engine compartment of one of the lorries. Another two black plastic bundles were also uncovered from the engine compartment of the other lorry.

A total of 18,142 sachets of chewing tobacco were found on the two lorries.

Less than an hour later, officers at the Tuas Checkpoint uncovered 298 cartons of contraband cigarettes hidden in the modified compartments of an arriving Malaysia-registered car driven by a Malaysian man, aged 32.

In total, 423 cartons of contraband cigarettes and 20,542 sachets of chewing tobacco worth more than $100,000 were seized in the eight hours. The total duty as well as Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded exceeded $88,000 and S$7,000 respectively.

ljessica@sph.com.sg

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