By Betheena Unite
A total of 2,125 reams reams of smuggled cigarettes worth P1.2 million were uncovered in three passenger vessels in Zamboanga Wednesday, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.
The smuggled items were found inside MV Mama Mia, MV Mary Joy 1, and MV Asian Stars that all came from Jolo, Sulu.
Agents from the Customs Enforcement and Security Service and Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service confiscated the items for prompt destruction, Zamboanga District Collector Segundo Sigmundfreud Barte said.
Authorities from the Naval Intelligence and Security Group-Western Mindanao and the Philippine Coast Guard were also part of the raiding team.
With the large haul, Barte expressed concern over the prevalent entry of smuggled cigarettes in the area but vowed that the bureau and other law enforcement agencies had intensified their watch over entry of smuggled goods through the Philippines’ backdoor.
A Warrant of Seizure and Detention will be issued against the smuggled cigarettes for violation of Executive Order No. 245, the Amended Rules and Regulations Governing the Exportation and Importation of Leaf Tobacco and Tobacco Products and Section 117 of RA 10863 otherwise known as Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested three Korean nationals engaged in selling smuggled cigarettes in a shop in Bacoor, Cavite.
NBI Director Dante Gierran identified the three arrested Koreans as Young Kook Kim, Jong Kook Choi, and Gee Poong Lee.
The three Koreans were arrested last Tuesday at their shop in Bacoor, Cavite during an entrapment operation conducted by the NBI’s Special Action Unit (NBI-SAU). Seized during the operation were P500,000 worth of smuggled cigarettes.
Gierran said the three Koreans failed to present the necessary importation documents to justify their possession of the goods.
Following their arrest, the three were presented for inquest before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for violating Republic Act 10863, the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. (With a report from Jeffrey G. Damicog)