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.