|Dong Thap Customs Department seized over 5,000 packs of smuggled cigarettes in August 2022. Photo: TEL|
Issues at border gates
According to the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department under the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the trafficking and illegal transportation of goods across provinces bordering other countries take place with sophisticated tricks such as hiding foreign cigarettes in water pipes and dropping them in the river to take to Vietnam; and using motorboats to transport smuggled cigarettes at night.
Dong Thap Customs Department said that the smuggling of foreign cigarettes in Dong Thap province did not fall compared with the previous year due to the high demand for this item in the domestic market and the high difference in the price, so many people participate in cigarette trafficking and transportation.
The Customs force has coordinated with other competent forces to regularly inspect and control key areas to prevent the establishment of large-scale smuggling rings and gangs, and handled many offenses.
The local department collaborated with local competent agencies to handle about 80 cases of smuggling cigarettes from Cambodia to Vietnam with about 90,000 packs of foreign cigarettes such as Hero, Jet, Nelson, Scott, Bayon, with a total value of about VND1.5 billion.
In addition, the department has handled three cases, and seized 6,250 packs of foreign cigarettes worth about VND114 million.
In November, the local Technical Customs Team at So Thuong Border Gate coordinated with the local police to patrol and control the route from Coi Dai Bridge to Binh Hoa Ha hamlet, Thuong Lac commune, Hong Ngu district, Dong Thap province to seize 3,500 packs of foreign cigarettes. These smuggled cigarettes were transported by motorboats from Cambodia to Vietnam at night.
Captain Huynh Viet Kieu, Head of the Border Guard Station under Ha Tien International Border Gate Station (Kien Giang Province), said that from 3am to 5am on November 25, the working team of Ha Tien International Border Gate Station and Sa Ky Border Guard Station handled four smuggling cases and 4,000 packs of cigarettes.
At the international border gates of Xa Mat, Tan Nam, Ka Tum, Phuoc Tan (Tay Ninh province), the smuggling, trade fraud and illegal transportation of goods tends to increase, including the smuggling of foreign cigarettes.
According to Tay Ninh Customs Department, in the first nine months of 2022, the department handled 290 cases of smuggling, commercial fraud, counterfeit goods and illegal cross-border transportation of goods and arrested 283 violators. In which, there are seven cases of illegal transportation of cigarettes across the border with 560 packs of cigarettes.
Many tricks to ship goods inland
In addition to dozens of cases of transporting smuggled foreign cigarettes handled by the competent authorities at the border gate, smugglers also transported and gathered a large number of smuggled cigarettes across the border area and then ship them inland for consumption.
Smugglers often transport less than 1,500 packs on each ship to avoid criminal prosecution. The smuggled cigarettes are taken from the dealers, and transported on trucks and passenger cars to the inland, stored at warehouses and then sold to grocery stores. However, many large cases of transporting smuggled cigarettes for domestic consumption were handled by law enforcement.
Recently, in Binh Duong province, through information provided by the public, Ben Cat town police inspected a truck with License Plate 63C-038.75 and discovered 250,000 packs of cigarettes and 15 tons of smuggled sugar worth about VND5.3 billion. The Investigation Police Agency issued a decision to prosecute a criminal case and decided to make an action plan for investigation.
In Dong Nai, the local police successfully busted two rings of trafficking, storing and transporting smuggled cigarettes from the Cambodian border to Dong Nai. Currently, the police agency has prosecuted the cases and 12 suspects for trafficking and transporting banned goods, and seized 65,286 packs of smuggled cigarettes. This is the largest quantity of smuggled cigarettes seized in the province.
Similarly, the Can Tho City Police discovered a case of trading banned goods in large quantity with a sophisticated operation, involving many provinces and cities such as Ho Chi Minh City, Long An, Dong Nai, Hau Giang, An Giang.
The law enforcement forces have issued a decision to prosecute five suspects, seized 21,065 packs of smuggled cigarettes and many related documents.
Ahead of the Lunar New Year 2023, the demand for cigarettes in the domestic market increases. The cigarette smuggling across border gates and border crossings in the Southern border caused concerns. Anti-smuggling forces and localities have executed anti-smuggling plans in the peak months before, during and after the Lunar New Year, aiming to effectively prevent illegal trade and transportation of goods, especially cigarettes.
On December 10, the National Steering Committee 389 issued a Peak Plan on anti-smuggling, trade fraud and counterfeit goods before, during and after the Lunar New Year, and requested the Steering Committee 389 of ministries, sectors and localities to prevent smuggling, illegal transportation of goods across border gates, sea areas and trade fraud and fake goods.