Customs Zamboanga confiscates P35-M smuggled cigarettes

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DAVAO CITY (April 12) — The Bureau of Customs stationed in the Port of Zamboanga confiscated 1,159 cases of smuggled cigarettes with market value of P35 million Tuesday, April 9.

The operation was conducted by combined elements of the Customs, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) along with the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

The smuggled cigarettes, seized in the vicinity waters of Lower Calarian, Zamboanga, is the biggest successful operation in the history of the Port.

Zamboanga District Collector Segundo Barte, Jr., said the collaborative effort is in compliance to the directive of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to intensify anti-smuggling operations in the ZAMBASULTA (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) area.

Photo Courtesy: BOC Port of Zamboanga

Barte said the operation stemmed from the intelligence report forwarded by the BOC – Intelligence Group on 7 April from Zamboanga residents.

He said the vigilance of the residents who tipped of the incoming shipment resulted to the successful operations.

The government agencies were informed that the contraband will be downloaded at Hadji Taha wharf in Baliwasan but the vessel did not arrive, Barte added.

On 9 April, the Philippine Navy intercepted watercraft MJ Andrea I containing 1,159 cases of smuggled cigarettes from Indonesia for delivery to Lower Calarian, Zamboanga City.

A thorough search was immediately conducted with the presence of the personnel of the Philippine Drug and Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to determine if there are illegal drugs stored inside. PDEA’s K9 sniffing dogs inspected the vessel and found negative of drugs.

Photo Courtesy: BOC Port of Zamboanga

The shipment will now be subjected to the issuance of Warrant of Seizure and Detention (WSD) in the absence of the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) permit and for violation of Executive Order No. 245 “Amended Rules & Regulations Governing the Exportation and Importation of Tobacco and Tobacco Products” and Section 117 of RA 10863 otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) of 2016.

Guerrero earlier said, they are now intensifying the anti-smuggling operations following the directive from President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Government must collect what is due to government, contraband affects the economic movement and anyone violating the law should be punished,” Duterte has repeatedly emphasized.

All confiscated contraband will be destroyed.-ezc/NewsLine.ph

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