The vigilance and swift intervention by the Police and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority during a joint operation paid off handsomely, resulting in the arrest of 5 Singaporeans and 2 Indonesians for attempting to smuggle duty-unpaid cigarettes into Singapore .
On 4 August 2012 at about 10.15 pm , a Singapore registered supply boat by the name ‘Chong Han 02’ was spotted behaving suspiciously, heading towards Sungei Jurong bridge, at the sea off Jurong River , Singapore . Moments later, when the boat was near the bridge, the subjects on board the boat were seen dumping boxes of duty unpaid cigarettes, wrapped in black plastic bags, into the water.
At the same time, some other subjects on the shore were seen entering the waters to retrieve the boxes. Officers from the Police Coast Guard and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority immediately moved in to apprehend them. Upon seeing the officers, the smugglers ditched their illegal operation and fled in all directions. Their attempt to escape however was thwarted by the swift response by the officers from Police Coast Guard, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, and Clementi Police Division. Five Singaporeans and 2 Indonesians, aged between 24 and 52 years, were arrested. The 2 Indonesians were the crew of the supply boat while the Singaporeans were on the shore to retrieve the boxes from the water. They attempted to smuggle into Singapore a total of 22,900 packets of duty unpaid cigarettes, valued at about S$240,303. The total Excise Duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded is about S$200,846. The cigarettes and the supply boat were seized.
Acting Commander of Police Coast Guard, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Lee Su Peng said: "The success of this joint operation between SPF and ICA reaffirm our strong resolve and determination against any illegal activities in Singapore waters. It is also a stern reminder to those who are inclined to crime that it does not pay to violate the integrity of our waters. We take a serious view on illegal smuggling activities and we will act swiftly to bring them to justice.”
Meanwhile, the Singapore Customs would like to remind the public that buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are serious offences under the Customs Act and the Goods and Services Tax Act. Offenders will be severely dealt with. They can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty evaded and/or jailed for up to six years. With effect from 1 January 2012 , the minimum court fine for first-time and repeat offenders of tobacco-related offences has been raised to $2,000 and $4,000 respectively. Repeat offenders who are caught with more than two kilogrammes of tobacco products will also face mandatory imprisonment. Vehicles used in the commission of such offences may also be forfeited. The public is strongly advised not to buy duty-unpaid products. For possessing a packet of duty-unpaid cigarettes, buyers may face a minimum fine of $500 or prosecution in court.
The duty unpaid cigarettes which were seized
The arrested subjects with the cigarettes
The supply boat ‘Chong Han 02’ used in the commission of the offence