3 men jailed for smuggling chewing tobacco into Singapore using Malaysian-registered vehicles

3 men jailed for smuggling chewing tobacco into Singapore using Malaysian-registered vehicles

Chewing tobacco smuggling Malaysia ICA
Chewing tobacco products hidden in various vehicle compartments. (Photos: ICA)

SINGAPORE: Three men have been jailed for their roles in smuggling more than 25,000 sachets of chewing tobacco from Malaysia into Singapore, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said in a press release on Wednesday (May 22).

Malaysian national Saravana Kumar Lechumanan, 30, was sentenced to seven months' imprisonment after recruiting couriers to bring the tobacco into Singapore. It is the stiffest punishment to date for importing chewing tobacco, HSA said.

Two couriers, both Malaysian nationals, were also handed jail terms. Darmindran Magentheran, 23, was sentenced to six weeks'imprisonment while Kalidas Balakrishnan, 33, was given four weeks' imprisonment.

A total of 25,659 sachets of Hans Chhap khaini tobacco were uncovered on five occasions between June and September 2018 by officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

Khaini tobacco is a form of chewing tobacco that consists of moist, dark brown tobacco leaves mixed with slaked lime or spices.

The sachets were found concealed in vehicle compartments, such as door panels, the tyre jack compartment, bumper and floor board.

Chewing tobacco smuggling Malaysia
Chewing tobacco products hidden under the vehicle. (Photo: ICA)

HSA's investigations found that Saravana would rent Malaysian-registered vehicles and dismantle them to hide the chewing tobacco in various compartments.

The vehicles were then handed to couriers, who would drive them from Malaysia to Singapore.

Saravana was found guilty and sentenced on May 10 for abetting by engaging in a conspiracy with the couriers to import chewing tobacco into Singapore, HSA said.

chewing tobacco smuggling Malaysia
Chewing tobacco products retrieved from a vehicle. (Photo: ICA)

"HSA would like to remind the public that the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act prohibits the import, distribution, sale or offer for sale of emerging tobacco products," said HSA in their press release.

"These include shisha tobacco, smokeless tobacco, chewing tobacco such as Gutkha, Khaini, Zarda, vaporisers and their constituents."

Possession, purchase and use of such products are also prohibited in Singapore, HSA added.

Source: CNA/jt