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Contraband cigarette distribution ring busted

Five Chinese work permit holders involved in the distribution of contraband cigarettes were arrested on May 31 by Singapore Customs.

SINGAPORE: Five Chinese work permit holders were arrested for the distribution of contraband cigarettes in a May 31 raid by Singapore Customs officials.

In a statement released on Wednesday (June 4), the authorities said a total of 394 cartons and 35 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes worth more than S$42,300 were seized, with duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded in excess of S$33,800.

Following a tip-off, Customs officers arrested Miao Wei, 39, Xu Renfeng, 29, and Wang Guangzhen, 26, at a terrace house at Ernani Street on May 31. Wang had rented a room in the terrace house, and the other two men were delivering the contraband cigarettes to him via the company bus driven by Miao, according to the statement.

Another two tenants - Guo Peiying, 26, and Shi Zhenyuan, 24 - were also arrested. The two men had a total of 53 cartons and 18 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes in their rooms, according to the Customs statement.

The officers also raided another terrace house at Aida Street, where Xu was renting a room, and recovered 60 cartons and 5 packets of contraband cigarettes, according to Singapore Customs. Investigations established that Wang ordered the contraband cigarettes from Xu, who then recruited Miao to deliver them. Wang had wanted to sell the cigarettes at a profit, the statement noted.

Guo was sentenced to four months' jail, while Shi received a fine of S$5,800 for their involvement in contraband cigarette activities. Court proceedings for the other three men are ongoing.

"Singapore Customs takes a serious view of foreigners who get involved in illegal contraband cigarette activities. We will not hesitate to clamp down on such illegal activities and bring offenders who contravene Singapore's laws to justice," said Mr Lim Guan Cheong, Head of Suppression and Community Engagement at Singapore Customs.

He also advised those who rent their rooms out to remain alert and ensure their tenants are not using their rented rooms to store contraband cigarettes, while companies should ensure their vehicles are not being used for illegal activities.

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