BOC destroys P323M contraband cigarettes in Zamboanga City
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Zamboanga del Sur — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) in this city started destroying on Thursday P323.59 million worth of smuggled cigarettes it seized in law enforcement operations in cooperation with various partners in the past seven months.
The haul consisted of 5,624 master cases and 1,171 reams of contraband cigarettes.
Engineer Arthur Sevilla Jr., district collector of the Port of Zamboanga, said the smuggled cigarettes were seized from May to November this year during separate maritime patrol and customs checkpoints in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.
The illegal goods were ripped off and drenched with water before being run over by a roller. After being pressed down, these were dumped in a sanitary landfill in Barangay Salaan.
The BOC employed 50 laborers to help them open the master cases and reams and manually cut the packs into two before letting the firefighters drench these with water.
“We will stay behind until everything is condemned to make sure no one will try to slip these contrabands out,” Sevilla said on Thursday.
The smuggled items reached almost 10 feet high inside a rented warehouse on Amor se Paga Street in Barangay Tetuan.
Sevilla said it would take two to three days to destroy the haul of smuggled cigarettes which comprise such brands as Bravo, Modern, Port, President, Astro, Union, Far, Gift, RS Kretek, San Marino, Cannon, Marlboro, Blackhawk, Oakley Original, King, Perfect, Commissioner, New Berlin, Bros, Nelson, Vess, and D’Premier.
Sevilla noted that smuggling was still rampant in the island provinces.
He confirmed that Philip Morris, one of the big tobacco industry players in the country had been closely coordinating with BOC in apprehending smugglers as the company was heavily affected by the entry of contraband cigarettes as theirs sell for P160 per pack while contrabands only at P40.
The company, according to Sevilla, feeds them information about incoming shipments.
Last year, the BOC condemned around P1.4 billion in seized smuggled cigarettes.