Cases of goods smuggling up by 17 per cent

SINGAPORE - Tobacco stashed in an air filter, and a live sugar glider - a marsupial species - concealed in a toothpaste box.

These were among the things brazen smugglers were caught trying to bring into Singapore in the first half of the year, said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) yesterday.

In its mid-year report for this year, ICA said that it has noted a 17.2 per cent increase in the number of contraband-smuggling cases in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

A total of 46,300 contraband-smuggling cases were detected from January to June this year, while the figure was 39,500 during the same period last year.

The enforcement agency attributed this to "rigorous border and inland checks, and collaboration with other agencies, such as Singapore Customs".

It added that the increased proficiency of its officers' detection skills have led to the detection of more cases. ICA said: "While the modus operandi of smugglers has been evolving constantly and showing more sophistication, ICA has foiled such attempts successfully and will not let up on its efforts."

The report said that the number of immigration offenders arrested by ICA in the first half of this year was 1,311, a 0.5 per cent decline from last year's figure of 1,318. Immigration offenders comprise illegal immigrants and overstayers.

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