Taipei, Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration (CGA) busted a tobacco smuggling operation in Pingtung County late Monday night and seized NT$10 million (US$333,667) worth of smuggled cigarettes, the CGA said Tuesday.
In a statement, the CGA said officers from its southern office seized 160,000 packs of untaxed cigarettes with a market value of NT$10 million from a Donggang-registered fishing boat called the "Chang Sheng" and arrested five crew members, including the captain.
The CGA, which worked on the case with the Kaohsiung Harbor Police Department, said the busting of the smuggling operation came after a month of effort following up on tip-offs and collecting evidence on the fishing boat's moves.
Just after the fishing boat arrived in Donggang at around 11 p.m. Monday, CGA officers boarded the vessel and conducted a search that found the 160,000 packs of cigarettes stuffed into 331 big boxes hidden in the lower deck of the boat, the CGA said.
After the cigarettes were discovered, the captain, surnamed Tsai, confessed to the CGA officers that the fishing boat was entrusted by others to smuggle the tobacco into Taiwan for profit, according the CGA.
According to the CGA, the seized untaxed cigarettes were made in China.
Based on the Tobacco and Alcohol Administration Act, the CGA has confiscated all of the tobacco and handed over the five arrested crew members to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office for an investigation.
The CGA said the agency has intensified efforts to crack down on any wine and tobacco smuggling at a time when domestic demand is on the rise as the Dragon Boat Festival approaches.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel