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Arrests of immigration offenders down, smuggling cases up: ICA

The number of immigration offenders arrested in the first half fell 22 per cent from a year ago, but the number of contraband smuggling cases rose by 3 per cent, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority says.

SINGAPORE: The number of immigration offenders arrested in the first half of this year fell 22 per cent compared with a year ago, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said in its mid-year report released on Tuesday (Aug 19).

The offenders arrested between January and June comprised of 203 illegal immigrants and 817 overstayers, the report said. This represents a fall of 36 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively, when compared with the same period in 2013.

There were 109 harbourers and 40 employers of immigration offenders arrested during the period, a decrease of 2 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively, from a year ago.

Between January and June this year, the number of contraband smuggling cases detected rose 3 per cent from 46,300 to 47,800 cases. Security items such as bullet-proof vests, throwing knives, pepper sprays and night-vision binoculars were some of the common items detected, the ICA report said. Animals such as birds and puppies have also been detected.

“While smugglers of contraband items have been seeking new methods of concealment, some of them have also reverted to known methods like concealing contraband in the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) tanks of cars, hollow plywood doors and the modified floorboard of vans,” ICA said.

ICA says it will continue to be vigilant in thwarting these attempts, which could be used by terrorists to smuggle dangerous materials. Singapore's borders are among the busiest in the world, with about half a million passing through every day, according to the authority, which said it would continue to work closely with enforcement agencies and engage community partners in its effort to prevent immigration offences.