25 caught in 2018 for smuggling duty unpaid cigarettes into Singapore
Twenty-five drivers were caught last year for smuggling duty-unpaid cigarettes into Singapore after responding to online advertisements on platforms such as Facebook and WeChat.
Singapore Customs revealed this in a press release yesterday.
The advertisements offered payment ranging between $100 and $600 for every smuggling trip into Singapore.
The drivers caught were jailed between 10 weeks and six months.
The vehicles they used, which included cars and vans with modified compartments, were also seized.
One of the drivers, Singaporean Law Hwa Peng, 45, was sentenced by the State Courts on Jan 21 to 20 weeks' imprisonment.
He had responded to a Facebook advertisement and was offered $400 for every trip to smuggle duty-unpaid cigarettes from Malaysia.
Law was provided with a car, which he drove into Malaysia for duty-unpaid cigarettes to be loaded into modified compartments of the vehicle.
He then tried to drive the car into Singapore but was arrested at the Woodlands Checkpoint.
A total of 144 cartons and 1,143 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes, as well as the car, were seized.
The duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded amounted to about $22,050 and $1,610 respectively.
In another case, a Malaysian, Ku Kai Chien, 25, responded to a Facebook post advertising for drivers, and drove his own van into Malaysia for the syndicate to load duty-unpaid cigarettes onto the vehicle.
If successful, he would have been paid $400.
Ku was arrested at the Tuas Checkpoint on March 21, last year, with a total of 201 cartons and 790 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes which were found concealed in various modified compartments of the van.
The duty-unpaid cigarettes and the van were seized.
The duty and GST evaded amounted to about $23,910 and $1,750 respectively.
On July 9, Ku was sentenced to six months' imprisonment for smuggling duty-unpaid cigarettes into Singapore.
Assistant Director-General (Intelligence & Investigation) Yeo Sew Meng said: "Drivers who are hoping to make easy and quick money from the syndicates by smuggling duty-unpaid cigarettes into Singapore should think twice.
They will end up paying a higher price when they are caught."
The Singapore Customs said that dealing with duty-unpaid goods is a serious offence under the Customs Act and the GST Act, and offenders can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded.
They can be jailed for up to six years. Their vehicles can also be forfeited.