P2.4-million worth of smuggled cigarettes intercepted in Zamboanga City

Published October 1, 2019, 3:04 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Betheena Kae Unite

A wooden vessel loaded with several master cases of smuggled cigarettes worth P2.4 million was intercepted in Zamboanga over the weekend, the Bureau of Customs said Tuesday.

Around 93 master cases of cigarettes were discovered from MJ Champion, a wooden watercraft locally known as “Jungkung”, when it was intercepted by customs agents off Istanbak, Lower Calarian in Zamboanga Saturday.

According to Port of Zamboanga District Collector Segundo Sigmundfreud Barte, Jr., they received information that an undetermined number of boxes of smuggled cigarettes will be brought to Zamboanga from Jolo, Sulu onboard a wooden watercraft. The shipment was bound for distribution in Magay and Sta. Cruz Public Market in Zamboanga City.

With the information, Barte directed a team from Port of Zamboanga, Philippine Coast Guard, Task Force Aduana, Naval Intelligence and Security Group Western Mindanao, and Naval Special Operations Unit to launch a joint anti-smuggling operation in the waters off Istanbak, Lower Calarian.

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 Republic Act No. 10863, otherwise known as Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), Barte said.

The same warrant will also be issued against the vessel, MJ Champion, for transporting the smuggled cigarettes which is a violation of Section 1113 of the CMTA.

Earlier, some 30 cartons of assorted cigarettes valued at P900,000 were also seized after the items were discovered inside two hatchback-type vehicles inside the Pier Area in Zamboanga City last September 18.