P270-M illegal contraband seized

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Authorities intercepted two motor launches at the coastal sea waters of Tumalutap Island here loaded with an estimated 6,000 master cases of assorted brands of smuggled cigarettes worth P270 million.

Bureau of Customs Zamboanga City district collector Segundo Barte Jr. revealed that operatives from the Second Zamboanga City Mobile Force Company — in coordination with his office — intercepted the two motor launches near midnight on Wednesday.

Barte said that they received a tip from some fishermen in the area that two motor launches were sailing near Tumalutap Island loaded with master cases of smuggled cigarettes, which prompted the 2nd CMFC to form a team with operatives from the Customs, Intelligence and Investigation Service and the Enforcement and Security Service Quick Reaction Team to respond to the report.

Upon reaching the island, the authorities saw the two wooden motor launches which they successfully intercepted and conducted a boarding inspection of their cargoes. The team discovered master cases of smuggled cigarettes, which prompted the team to ask the skipper of the motor launch for their authority to transport but no documents were shown.

Second ZCMFC company director P/Lt Col. Reynald E Ariño said the team held the 12 individuals for questioning and towed the two motor launches to the 2nd ZCMFC finger wharf located at Cawa-Cawa Boulevard, adjacent to the headquarters of the 2nd ZCMFC.

Barte narrated that the two motor launches were bound for Zamboanga del Sur province coming from Sulu province and they were allegedly scheduled to unload their cargoes in one of the coastal towns in Zamboanga del Sur to serve as a distribution center for the 26 towns’ public markets in the province.

Among the seized smuggled cigarettes carries the popular brands of Cannon, Fort, Absolute, Famous, Astro, Tradition and New Far.

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