6-man contraband cigarette distribution ring foiled by authorities

SINGAPORE - Six men were arrested and the two vans used to transport the boxes of contraband were seized in two operations mounted on Aug 4 and July 28. A total of 2,399 cartons and eight packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes worth more than $269,000 were seized. The total duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded amounted to almost $230,000.

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Here is the full statement from the Singapore Customs:

Singapore Customs, Police break up six-man contraband cigarette distribution ring

Two joint operations conducted last week by Singapore Customs and the Singapore Police Force (SPF) have disrupted a contraband cigarette distribution ring.

Six men were arrested and two vans used to transport boxes of contraband cigarettes were seized in the operations on July 28 and August 4, 2013.

A total of 2,399 cartons and eight packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes worth more than S$269,000 were seized. The total duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded amounted to almost S$230,000.

On July 28, 2013, Singapore Customs and SPF officers mounted an operation at Jalan Raja Udang. The officers interdicted a van used to convey contraband cigarettes and raided a unit in a condominium, where a Singaporean man was arrested. A total of 1,200 cartons and eight packets of contraband cigarettes were recovered from the van and the unit.

Following further investigations, Singapore Customs and the SPF mounted a second joint operation in the early hours of August 4, 2013 at Pandan Road to nab the other members of the distribution ring. The officers kept a close watch as they saw a van being driven into a shipyard.

Five minutes later, they saw the van being driven out of the shipyard. The officers moved in to interdict the van and arrest the driver. They searched the shipyard and arrested two other men on the premises. Another two men suspected to be members of the syndicate were subsequently arrested. A total of 1,199 cartons of contraband cigarettes were recovered from the van.

Investigations revealed that one of the syndicate members had sought the assistance of the shipyard's night watchman Sumon Chandra Das Gonesh Chandra Das, a Bangladeshi national, to use the premises as the syndicate's collection point for contraband cigarettes.

For dealing with contraband cigarettes, Sumon was sentenced by the court on August 5 to 15 months' jail.

Investigations are ongoing for the other five men, all Singaporeans, arrested.