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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.

 

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