International Business & Economy Smugglers get creative, over 12,000 boxes of contraband cigarettes discovered underneath concrete...

Smugglers get creative, over 12,000 boxes of contraband cigarettes discovered underneath concrete blocks

During the course of checks at Tuas, the officers noticed anomalies in the concrete blocks. The officers then drilled holes into the concrete blocks and discovered 2,479 cartons of cigarettes

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Smugglers today have become more daring and more creative.

Considered to be the biggest haul in five years, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers released a statement on Monday, Aug 19 stating that it had found smuggled goods inside concrete blocks. There  were 2,479 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes inside these blocks brought in by an arriving Malaysia-registered lorry at Tuas Checkpoint.

During the course of checks at Tuas, the officers noticed anomalies in the concrete blocks. The officers then drilled holes into the concrete blocks and discovered the contraband encased within.

Income gone

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The lost revenue in duty from the attempted importation would have amounted to roughly S$1,240,430, Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded would have come up to S$90,590.

The 25-year-old male Malaysian lorry driver was arrested and investigations are ongoing.

“Safeguarding Singapore’s borders remains ICA’s top priority. 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,” ICA said.

Facebook screen grab from ICA official website

Other creative smuggling activities

In February 16, another Malaysian man was caught with packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes at Woodlands Checkpoint – including five packets in a hollowed-out loaf of bread.

Officers seized a total of seven packets of cigarettes from the 38-year-old, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in a Facebook post.

In addition to the five packets hidden in the loaf of bread placed in the man’s motorcycle basket – officers also found one packet in the man’s pocket and another in the padding of his helmet.

“The ICA 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,” ICA authorities stressed.

Then on April 18, e-cigarette paraphernalia was found hidden in a container of cooked white rice, again at Woodlands Checkpoint. The container was found in the storage compartment of a Malaysia-registered motorcycle.

“Further checks on the motorcyclist’s sling bag revealed more e-cigarette accessories, such as cartridges and cables,” the agency personnel said, adding that the case has been referred to the Health Sciences Authority for investigation.

“These methods of concealment are a cause for concern as similar methods may be used by people (with) ill intent to smuggle security items into Singapore…. The ICA will continue to conduct security checks to prevent smuggling attempts.”

The buying, using and possessing of tobacco products like e-cigarettes is also illegal in Singapore. -/TISG

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