Massive cigarette smuggling racket bared
The Customs Investigations Division yesterday uncovered a massive
racket where king size ‘Gold Seal’ Cigarettes were imported on the
pretext of importing fabrics under a BOI Project from Dubai.
The Customs also detected a large quantity (150 kilos) of “Palmparak’
also known as ‘Babul’ which is a banned item in Sri Lanka. These
Palmparak packets in small quantity are sold near schools by an
organised gang, the Customs officials said.
In connection with this Rs. 7.4 million racket the officials of the
Customs investigations Division arrested four persons including a
leading businessman and a wharf clerk attached to a leading garment
export factory in Colombo.
A senior Custom officer said that the Government would have lost over
Rs. 110 million if these goods were not detected.
When the container was opened by the Customs it found several fabrics
in the first row, then they found a set of Frosted bulbs UMS, then hot
pots and several used air-conditioners.
The consigners had placed used air-conditioners inside the container
in which ‘Gold Seal’ cigarettes were imported to meet the weight of the
40 foot long container.
Customs Deputy Director V. S. Sudasinghe who is directing the
investigation into the racket said that the Customs was able to make
this detection specially on a directive by President Mahinda Rajapaksa
on earlier occasions the containers imported under the BOI projects were
not examined frequently and they were released via the “Green Channel”
to the importer. But on the Direction of the President Customs commenced
examining the containers imported under the BOI projects recently.
Owners of the containers sent from Dubai and the four suspects who
are alleged to have been involved in the racket were present at the time
of the examining of the containers with the contraband at the Customs
Sub Preventive Office at Orugodawatta, Colombo yesterday.
The Customs investigations revealed that a female had been involved
in preparing the forged shipping documents for this massive racket at
the shipping agents office in Colombo.
The detection was made by Customs at the South Asia Gateway Terminal
and the suspect detained until the container was examined yesterday
morning by a special Customs team including Customs Superintendent Sunil
Premaratne assisted by Assistant Customs Superintendents Thusara
Wijesena, Duminda Sirisena, C. Arulanandan and a team of officers
attached to the Customs Preventive Division.