Customs bust counterfeit cigarettes smuggling racket

Customs bust counterfeit cigarettes smuggling racket


A massive haul of illicit cigarettes, more than five million sticks in quantity worth over Rs. 36 million was taken into custody during the last three months by the Sri Lanka Customs.

These counterfeit cigarettes were imported to Sri Lanka on several occasions over a three month period under famous brand names of cigarettes but were not genuine products. The cache was identified as a counterfeit product by the Ceylon Tobacco Company. The Customs took into custody 4,853,000 cigarettes in 24,265 cartons worth Rs. 36,397,500. “If the Customs failed to take the illicit cigarettes into custody, the total revenue lost to the country would be Rs. 110 million,” Superintendent of Customs R.P. Hewagama said.

The racketeers have sent the cigarettes using the names and addresses of foreign employees from Middle East countries.

The cache is scheduled to be destroyed under the supervision of the Sri Lanka Customs and the National Authority for Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) by the Ceylon Tobacco Company. The counterfeit cigarettes were handed over to the Sri Lanka Tobacco Company by officials of the Sri Lanka Customs yesterday.

“The Government’s loss would have been several millions of rupees if the product found its way to the market. Moreover as this is a low quality counterfeit product, it causes major harm to the consumers” Assistant Director of Customs at Revenue Task Force Jayantha Ponnamperuma said.

Meanwhile a large quantity of playing cards worth Rs. 1.2 million has also been taken into custody by the Customs. More than 52,000 plastic coated playing cards had been imported from Dubai concealed in two wooden boxes.

The total revenue that would have been lost has been calculated as Rs.3.38 million.

/ English

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