Authorities Seize 600 Boxes of Contraband Cigarettes Shipped From China to Taiwan

March 20: Undercover officers posing as a married couple directed a police operation that shut down a syndicate  trying to smuggle 600 boxes of cigarettes into Keelung harbor from China in a fishing boat.

Coast guard and police officers detained 11 people after swooping on the Penghu-registered vessel, which had been spotted making a series of suspicious journeys between Penghu Island and Chen-Pin Fishing Harbor at Keelung.

Arrested were the Taiwanese captain, surnamed Lu, two fishermen from Mainland China, three Indonesian fishermen and five Taiwanese porters. All will be charged with smuggling activities.

The Coast Guard Administration has been monitoring the harbor after receiving information that some syndicates were trying to smuggle in cigarettes from the north, the United Daily News reported.

Two police officers working undercover saw a lorry entering Peace Island that they believed would collect merchandise from a boat in Chen-Pin Fishing Harbor. Other officers were alerted and the arrests made.

However, police initially could not find any hidden goods, and the cigarettes were not uncovered until a  fibreglass panel was shattered in the cabin, revealing a secret compartment.

The captain said he had met up with a China-based vessel in international waters by chance, and agreed to help take the boxes to Taiwan for a payment of NT$300,000 (US $9,734).

The five Taiwanese porters insisted that they did not know the boxes contained smuggled cigarettes. They claimed to have been told only that they would unload fish and seafood.

Source: Asia Times

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