A2Z Traders, identified as one of four consignees in the cargo’s inward foreign manifest, abandoned it since it was held Nov. 14 last year, police said.
Chief Supt., director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said the importer did not claim the smuggled cargo after knowing customs officials were alerted on its dubious content.
Doromal led police and customs officials in opening the van and presented it to the media Monday at the Bureau of Custom’s examination area in Sasa district.
Doromal, also commander of PNP- anti-smuggling task group, said ATZ Traders declared the van to be containing only of motor parts.
The van contained three sports utility vehicles (SUVs) with models identified as Chamonix Mitsubishi, Isuzu Bighorn, and Toyota Hi-Ace.
It also contained around 50 used and new tires of various brands.
Doromal said the CIDG will file a case against the company for violations of Section 2503 of the country’s Tariff and Customs Code.
He said the Bureau of Customs can initiate forfeiture proceedings if a shipment is not claimed within 30 days from the time it was held.
It was the anti smuggling group who sought for the holding of the 40-foot van after receiving "very reliable information" that it contained highly dutiable goods.
Macabantug Mandangan, BOC’s acting collection and assessment officer, said they are yet to come up with an estimate of the value of the sequestered cargo.
He said the government is losing a lot of money from smuggled goods.
He said that the case was the first time smuggled motor vehicles were recovered within the last year. In 2006, he said that most of the sequestered smuggled goods were ready-to-wear second hand clothing more popularly called as "ukay-ukay."
Last month, authorities intercepted the smuggling of 38 brand new cars, mostly SUVs, into Cagayan de Oro. The smugglers attempted to pass them off as automobile replacement parts.
The contraband cargoes were found inside 12 container vans, said Celso Templo, customs deputy commissioner for the BOC’s Intelligence and Enforcement Group (IEG).
"The importer removed the engines and placed them inside a separate container van apparently to cheat the government of millions of pesos in customs duties and taxes," explained Templo in a People’s Journal report.
The seized cars include KIA Sorento, Hyundai Starex, Space Renault, KIA Caravan, KIA Carnival, Hyundai Bongo Cabin, KIA Matiz, Hyundai Galloper, KIA Avela, Mitsubishi Delica, KIA Sportage, KIA Aventa and Volkswagen.