Steep rise in seizure of smuggled cigarettes

Smuggling of foreign cigarettes has been on an unusual rise in Bengaluru over the past several months, ostensibly due to high demand in the city, say customs officials at Kempegowda International Airport.

Between April and December 2015, 78.72 lakh cigarettes worth nearly Rs. 5.5 crore were seized. This figure represents a steep rise from the 4.6 lakh cigarettes, valued at around Rs. 32.5 lakh, seized during the 2014-2015 financial year.

At least three to four cases of foreign cigarettes being smuggled have been reported daily over the past several months, a source in the Customs Department said.

Big crackdown

In the biggest crackdown, 21 smugglers, who are part of one gang, were nabbed while attempting to smuggle 12,475 cartons worth nearly Rs. 1.36 crore on January 30. They were carrying large quantity of clove cigarettes in the hand luggage. They were coming from Thailand and Malaysia.

Investigators believe that such gangs smuggle cigarettes from the South East Asian region for illegal sale in India.

“The smugglers are being booked under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, mainly due to lack of pictorial statutory warnings on the packets,” added a Custom’s officer at KIA. “Demand for smuggled cigarettes is high in the city due to strong buying power unlike in other cities. Customers have knowledge of top international brands.”

Apart from seizing cigarettes at the airport, in recent times, customs officials have been searching shops and godowns dealing with imported cigarettes and slapping dealers with tax dues and fines depending on the number of pieces found.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 3:51:01 PM |

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