By Raymund Antonio
Three persons were arrested in connection with the shipment of 30 cartons of assorted cigarettes that did not have the required import documents in a joint anti-smuggling operation in Zamboanga City, the Bureau of Customs said on Sunday.
BOC said the smuggled cigarettes, valued at P900,000, were intercepted on board two hatchback vehicles inside the port area in Zamboanga City last September 18.
The seized cigarettes bore the markings “locally manufactured”, was intended for “export” and had the same brand names like Philippines-made tobacco products but without the official logo.
“The drivers of the vehicles failed to present pertinent documents when they were accosted by the joint operatives,” the Customs bureau said in a statement.
The joint operation included BOC agents and members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
Authorities arrested the three individuals, whose names were withheld by BOC, after they received information about the cigarette smuggling in the city’s Magay Public Market.
Zamboanga Port has been used as the port of entry of illegal drugs and other contraband items by unscrupulous traders and importers.
The suspects are now facing charges for violating the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and the Revised Penal Code.
The vehicles and cigarettes will now be subject to forfeiture proceedings pursuant to Sections 1113 and 117 of the CMTA in relation to Executive Order No. 245 entitled, “Amended Rules and Regulations Governing the Exportation and Importation of Tobacco and Tobacco Products.”