Agents of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized more than P25 million worth of cigarettes believed to have been smuggled into the country via the porous borders of Mindanao.
The contraband, according to the Bureau of Customs-Port of Zamboanga (BOC-POZ) Water Patrol Division (WPD), was intercepted off the coastal waters of Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga City on Dec. 8.
In a statement, the BOC said its agents chanced upon the 707 master cases of smuggled cigarettes on board a wooden motorized vessel during the conduct of maritime patrol in Sta. Cruz Island.
The BOC earlier deployed its speedboats in various areas believed to be the regular routes of smuggling syndicates.
When asked of the documents, the 11-man crew failed to provide importation documents for the goods onboard.
The vessel came from Pangutaran, Jolo in Sulu, and was bound to Barangay Baliwasan seaside in Zamboanga City.
The crew members are now undergoing interrogation and profiling.
The vessel and its contrabands were placed under the custody of the BOC for inventory and proper disposition in violation of Section 1113 (a) of Republic Act 10863, or the “Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) of 2016, in relation to Section 117 and the Tobacco Exportation and Importation Rules and Regulations.