Contraband smuggling cases up by 17% in first half of 2013: ICA

Case of contraband smuggling saw a 17.2 per cent increase in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in its half-yearly statistics released on Tuesday.

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Here are the full details from the ICA press release:


Between January and June 2013, the number of contraband smuggling cases detected saw an increase of 17.2% from 39,500 cases last year to 46,300 cases this year.

Besides rigorous border and inland checks, collaboration with enforcement agencies such as Singapore Customs and increased proficiency of ICA officers' detection skills have led to the increase in detection of contraband smuggling cases.

ICA will continue to conduct security checks at our borders to prevent smugglers' attempts to sneak in contrabands. While the modus operandi used by smugglers has been constantly evolving and showing more sophistication, ICA has successfully foiled such attempts and will not let up on our efforts.


Old tricks with new "packaging" Luxurious cars are becoming a common sight at the checkpoints. A total of nine Singapore-registered 'branded' cars have been detected to have conveyed contraband items between January and June this year, as compared to just one each for the entire 2011 and 2012. Smugglers assume that high-end vehicles are less likely to be subjected to checks at the checkpoints and have tried to smuggle contraband items in these cars. ICA has managed to thwart these smuggling attempts.

Old methods resurfaced

The use of intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) to smuggle duty-unpaid cigarettes was first detected in 2010. The smugglers would declare that the consignments contain "Latex" upon arrival at the land checkpoints2 and attempt to escape detection. Such cases re-surfaced in May 2013 where ICA officers, in collaboration with Customs officers, detected a larger number of improvised IBCs that were similar to drums used for transporting and storing fluids and bulk materials. Still declaring the consignments to contain "Latex", the smugglers tried to bring the contraband cigarettes into Singapore via the sea route this time.

Never short of creative stunts

Smugglers also make use of 'creative' methods to bring in contraband items, especially duty-unpaid cigarettes, by hiding them in the car bridge of their vehicles, in modified compartments within furniture onboard tour coaches as well as in the empty space in rafts.

The same method of concealment could also similarly be employed by terrorists to smuggle dangerous materials such as weapons or explosives into Singapore. Therefore, ICA takes a serious view on any smuggling attempt and appropriate actions will be taken against the smugglers.