Police Regional Office 3 director Police Brig. Gen. Valeriano T. de Leon, quoting a report from Pampanga police director Police Col. Arnold Ibay, said the CIDG Pampanga Field Unit, a team from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) R4 Regional Investigation Division, Mabalacat City police, and other law enforcement units implemented a mission order issued by the BIR at Warehouse No. SFB 9706 at the DOST Compound, Barangay Paralayunan, Mabalacat City.
The mission order resulted in the discovery of smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes including raw materials used and or intended to be used for manufacturing cigarettes.
Five persons in the warehouse were arrested – Danny Martizano, 48, of St. Paul District, Bisug, Surigao del Sur; Richie Alminion, 34, of Barangay Malbug, Cawayan, Masbate; Sammy Molina, 44, of San Macario Norte, Natividad, Pangasinan; Ryan Tilanduca, 24, of Barangay Bangcud, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, and Efren Tacomto, 46, of Marcos Village, Mabalacat City.
Authorities seized a green Isuzu wing van truck with MV File No. 0389-00000014766 and license plate number IO 3955 loaded with several sacks of dried tobacco; white Hyundai 100 utility vehicle; 22 boxes and 26 reams of Yunyan cigarettes; 14 boxes of Shuangxi cigarettes; four boxes of Chunghua cigarettes; 19 reams and nine packs of Gold Line cigarettes; and 72 reams of Nanjing cigarettes.
Initial estimated worth of recovered smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes in the warehouse, including raw materials, is more or less P300 million.
It was also discovered that the arrested persons are associated with the Wendel Criminal Group engaged in the distribution of counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes in Central Luzon.
A follow-up operation was conducted on Block 22, Lot 9, Global Aseana Park 1, San Simon, Pampanga where 147,000 pieces of invalid green BIR stamps; 1,470,000 invalid light blue BIR stamps; 12 cigarette packing machine; two cigarette-making machine; 10 boxes black film and label; and more raw materials with a total of P1 billion were seized.
De Leon said that they and other government agencies are intensifying monitoring to prevent the entry and proliferation of contraband in the region.