22.1M peso worth of smuggled cigarettes seized in Zambo, Sulu  

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 27 November) – Boxes of cigarettes worth 22.1 million pesos were intercepted in this city and in Kalingalan-Caluang in Sulu on November 19 and 25 as Navy, marines and maritime police intensified border control activities in Basilan, Sulu and Zamboanga against smugglers.

Smuggled cigarettes worth 14.7 million pesos were seized in Zamboanga City on November  19 and 25  while in Sulu, smuggled cigarettess seized on November 19 were worth 7.4 million pesos.

Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci, chief of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao, said the smuggled goods were reported to have come from Indonesia.

Motor Boat Francis Kane along with its load of contraband cigarettes was captured in Sulu waters by joint naval troops. Photo courtesy of 4th Marine Brigade.

Lt. Senior Grade Chester Ross Cabaltera, Public Affairs Officer of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) said that on November 19,  its Naval Task Group-Sulu and the 4th Marine Brigade, elements from the 62nd Marine Company of the Force Renaissance Group, and Navy Intelligence operatives were patrolling the seas off Barangay Pandan-Pandan in Kalingalan Caluang in Sulu on board the Multi-Purpose Attack Craft BA485 when it intercepted MB Francis Kane which was carrying PhP7.4 million worth of smuggled cigarettes.

Col. Hernane Songano, commander of the 4th Marine Brigade said that during the investigation, it was found that the contraband consisted of 175 cases of  New Berlin Red cigarettes valued at P6,125,000, five cases of Delta Black cigarettes worth P175,000, four cases of Fort Black worth P140,000, five cases of Cannon valued at P175,000, another five cases of Delta Red also worth P175,000, and nine cases of San Marino Red cigarettes costing P175,000.

The boat, estimated to be worth another P300,000 was also turned over to the Bureau of Customs-Zamboanga City for their proper disposition, along with the seized contraband and the apprehended personalities.

Apprehended were Amirul Haber who is also the boat captain; Muhaimin Idris, Abdin Jaji, Mustamir Han, Ahabse Maruju, and Alvin Addani. All are residents of Pangan-Pangan, Kalingalang Caluang town in Sulu. The watercraft was reported to belong to a certain Haber Amerol.

Boxes of smuggled cigarettes on board Motor Boat Francis Kane. Photo courtesy of 4th Marine Brigade.

On the same day, Major Ramon Aquiatan, commander of the Zamboanga City Police Station 5 said their personnel seized 354 master cases and 62 reams of assorted cigarettes stored in a warehouse in Diamond Drive in Divisoria,  worth 12.4 million pesos.

“The items, crew and boat were turned over to Customs. Sila na ang in-charge to investigate and file cases against the crew and the owner, pati ‘yung process in disposing the boats is the responsibility of Customs,” Adaci said.

“We surmise that the goods were brought in by bigger boats then transferred to smaller boats” locally referred to as ‘jungkung,’ he said.

Adaci said this is the modus operandi. Usually, he said they are transported by bigger boats that can carry about 5,000 to 10,000 boxes of cigarettes, then upon arrival in Philippine waters, are transferred to the smaller jungkung boats, for distribution to different places.

On November 25, a joint operation conducted by elements from the 2nd City Mobile Force Company ‘Seaborne,’ Bureau of Customs, Intelligence and Investigation Service and the Enforcement and Security Service, seized boxes of cigarettes worth 2.3 million pesos off the waters of Tumalutab Island in this city.

Lt. Col. Reynald Arino, head of the 2nd City Mobile Force Company reported 65 master cases of assorted cigarettes were seized. The boat’s crew was unable to present the necessary documents both for the cargo and the motorized boat jungkung which sailed from Sulu and was bound for Pagadian City.

“We will not tolerate any form of smuggling in Zamboanga,” Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco, said in a telephone interview. She stressed that perpetrators will be investigated in accordance with due process and held accountable.  (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)