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Five million illegal cigarettes destroyed

The Customs destroyed five million illegal cigarettes worth Rs. 102 million at the Customs warehouse yesterday.

The cigarettes were seized during the last three months by the sea and air customs officials. Customs officers seized five million cigarettes in 25,000 cartons illegally imported from the Middle East, Deputy Director of Customs and Head of RTF Mali Piyasena said.

"This was one of the biggest cigarette hauls eized, he said.

Piyasena pointed out that smugglers used forged addresses and various ways to smuggle cigarettes. "Most cigarettes had been sent through sea cargo on forged identities in passenger baggages or on baggages of house maids working in the Middle East. Some smugglers also used air freight to send cigarettes to their respective destinations," he added.

The illegally imported cigarettes were supplied to customers all around the country, a Customs officer said. The cigarette smugglers used Middle East as a transition point. "Most cigarettes were imported from China and Vietnam to Dubai and from Dubai smuggled to Sri Lanka," a Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) officer said.

The Government also losses revenue when these illegally imported cigarettes are supplied to the market. "The smugglers evade duties from the Customs and supply cigarettes to the market at lower prices than the CTC, he remarked.

Customs Director General Sarath Jayathilaka handed five million cigarettes to the CTC to be destroyed.

 

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