SINGAPORE: More than 7,100 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized in Jurong and Joo Chiat Lane, said the Singapore Customs on Wednesday (Feb 2).
Five men and a woman, aged between 30 and 52, were also arrested, the agency added in a media release.
Officers from the Singapore Customs had observed two men transferring brown boxes from a Singapore-registered boxed truck to a Singapore-registered van last Friday in the vicinity of Jurong West Street 62. The van left the scene shortly after.
Another Singapore-registered open top lorry arrived later and parked beside the boxed truck. Officers saw men transferring more brown boxes and suspected that these boxes contained duty-unpaid cigarettes, said the Singapore Customs.
The officers conducted checks and found 4,336 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes in both vehicles.
"Besides the two men who were arrested on the spot, the man who was earlier sighted transferring the brown boxes from the boxed truck to the van was also arrested at the vicinity," said the agency.
In a related operation conducted in the vicinity of Joo Chiat Lane, officers followed the van which had left Jurong West Street 62 earlier.
They moved in when a man was seen approaching the van with the male driver and a woman seated inside. The man tried to escape but was eventually caught and arrested.
The driver and the woman were also arrested for their suspected involvement in dealing with duty-unpaid cigarettes. A total of 2,850 cartons were found in the van.
The three vehicles, cash amounting to S$14,898.65 and 7,186 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes were seized in the operation, said the Singapore Customs.
It added that the total duty and Goods and Services tax (GST) evaded amounted to about S$613,680 and S$48,840 respectively.
One of the men and the woman were charged in court on Jan 29 and the court granted the application for them to be remanded for a week for further investigations. Investigations are ongoing for the remaining men.
Buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, having in possession or dealing with duty-unpaid goods are serious offences under the Customs Act and the GST Act, said the agency.
Offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, jailed up to six years, or both.
Vehicles used in the commission of such offences and proceeds of sales of duty-unpaid cigarettes are also liable to be forfeited.