Police authorities arrested a “big-time” syndicate dealer supplying counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes in the CALABARZON areas Monday afternoon, Sept. 11, in Barangay Poblacion, Padre Garcia, Batangas and confiscated P800,000 worth of illicit items.
Authorities seize counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes from a "big-time" Calabarzon supplier.
Members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Batangas arrested Gilmor Catapang, the alleged supplier of illegal cigarettes in Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon and Rizal, and Jovert delos Santos at around 1pm on Monday.
This came after the Regional Special Operations Unit 4-A in coordination with the Balayan Municipal Police Station, Batangas Provincial Intelligence Unit and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) seized P10.5 million worth of smuggled cigarettes in Balayan also in Batangas.
The joint forces also arrested five suspected smugglers identified as Mark Joseph Cardinal, Benigno Alvarez, Kevin Renz Benedict de Villa, Efren Eronico and Modesto Eronico and are now detained at the Balayan Municipal Police Station.
Confiscated from the suspects after the buy-bust operation were 701 master cases of New Orleans and H&P Cigarettes valued at P15,000 per master case.
P/Col. Victor Sobrepena, the Batangas PNP Provincial officer said initial investigation showed that the illegal goods seized from the Sept. 11 trade enforcement came from an undisclosed place in San Pedro, Laguna and up for distribution in various parts of Batangas.
Sobrepena described Catapang as a “notorious” operator and has long been the subject of surveillance by PNP Region 4-A intelligence offices leading to the big-time supplier’s downfall, and expressed optimism that the distribution of illicit cigarettes in the region is expected to be significantly lessened.
Instituting what they call as Oplan Olea, elements of CIDG Batangas PFU and the Padre Garcia MPS said the operation against the illegal dealer was made possible by intelligence information provided by concerned citizens and other CIDG offices in the region.
Intelligence information further disclosed that Catapang’s smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes were being sourced from a Chinese national.
Sobrepena said PNP combined forces confiscated from the suspects 13 boxes of counterfeit cigarettes, or an imitation of legal locally-produced items and three boxes of Carnival Red, a brand of smuggled cigarettes, on board the Mitsubishi L300 van.
The suspects are facing charges in connection with the RA 8293 otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Rights Code and RA 10643, or an Act to Effectively Instill Health Consciousness Through Graphic Warning on Tobacco Products, Sobrepena said.
PNP in Region 4-A or Calabarzon has heightened sustained and aggressive trade enforcement activities against illegal cigarette trade proliferating in the five provinces following directives from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to immediately curb smuggling in their jurisdiction.