Taking advantage of preferential policies smuggling containers of cigarettes


Hundreds of boxes of smuggled cigarettes were seized by Ho Chi Minh City Customs. Photo: T.H
Hundreds of boxes of smuggled cigarettes were seized by Ho Chi Minh City Customs. Photo: T.H

Blocking smuggled cigarettes with a value of more than 10 billion VND

In the evening of the first Saturday of December 2022, a container of export tape in the customs declaration dated December 1, 2022 of Hoang Mai Global Co., Ltd. (No. 7 Street No. 8, Tang Nhon Phu A Ward, Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City) was waiting for procedures to board the ship, but was stopped by the Customs for inspection. Right in the night, the Customs Enforcement Team (HCMC Customs Department) coordinated with the Saigon Port Area 1 Customs Branch and the Police Department to investigate crimes related to corruption, economy and smuggling (PC03) – Ho Chi Minh City Police, conduct physical inspection of the entire shipment.

This shipment was declared on the customs declaration by the enterprise, including nearly 12 tons of plastic, self-adhesive, single-sided tape, in rolls and of Vietnamese origin, worth over 608 million VND. Upon physical inspection of the goods in the container, Customs authorities discovered that most of the goods in the container were wrong compared to the customs declaration. The customs agency discovered that the enterprise only disguised the top of the container by 4 packages of tape as the declaration, and all goods inside the container were tobacco products including 810 cartons. After a detailed count, the Customs authorities discovered that there were 405,000 packs of cigarettes, ESSE brands of all kinds. The estimated value of these goods is about 10.5 billion VND.

On the packaging of cartons containing cigarettes, they were labeled with the control label of Cambodia Customs. The Customs authorities suspect that goods originating from Cambodia are brought into Vietnam for export to a third country, so they are coordinating with the police to verify and clarify.

According to the Captain of the Customs Enforcement Team, Ta Hong Khanh, to disguise the number of smuggled cigarettes to avoid detection by the Customs authorities, when packing the goods, the enterprise used cartons with the same shape and size as the carton containing tapes for wrapping the outside of cigarette containers. Enterprises believe that, with such camouflage, when being checked through the scanner, the boxes have the identical dimensions and would be difficult for Customs to detect. However, the Customs force coordinated with the Police to detect and prevent in time.

Smuggled cigarettes are disguised as goods which are promoted for export

According to current regulations, tobacco is a conditional export item; only enterprises designated by the state are allowed to export. Some businesses have found ways to hide sophisticatedly and disguise themselves in export shipments, such as fruits, fresh vegetables, household commodities, etc.

According to our research, Hoang Mai Global Co., Ltd. has just been licensed for establishment since July 2020, Ms. Nguyen Thi Hoang Mai as the legal representative. The business line of this company is other supporting services related to transportation, the business is not licensed, or authorized to export tobacco.

In addition to the above-mentioned smuggled cigarette containers, a year ago, at the end of December 2021, a considerable smuggling case of cigarettes disguised in a shipment of fresh vegetables and fruits was also detected by the Southern Anti-Smuggling Control Team (Team 3), Anti-smuggling Investigation Department – General Department of Customs coordinating with Saigon port area 1 Customs Branch, timely prevented. This shipment was opened by BRADO Food Development Company Limited (address: 77 Ben Chuong Duong, Quarter 2, Phuoc Loc Ward, La Gi Town, Binh Thuan Province) in the name of opening the customs declaration. According to the enterprise’s declaration, the goods are fresh vegetables and fruits exported to Hong Kong (China). Through physical inspection, the Customs agency discovered that, in addition to several items correctly declared by customs, in the container, there were over 1,500 tobacco packages with Thang Long and Marlboro brands (10 bags/package) without customs declaration.

Through the detected violations, it shows that, to avoid detection, the objects are hidden in boxes of the same size, identical with the boxes according to the customs declaration (the goods are encouraged to be exported by the state, are usually green-classified by the risk management system, exempted from physical inspection of goods – PV) and are left at the end of the container to distract the Customs office if the goods are physically inspected or checked through scanner.

In addition to export goods containing many smuggled cigarettes, the Customs also discovered that many transit containers also contained smuggled cigarettes. Before that, when inspecting 2 containers of goods transshipped through Cat Lai port, declaring it to be an ignition part, the Customs authorities discovered that the goods were physically cigarettes. This shipment came from Taiwan (China) and transited through Vietnam to Malaysia. However, through the investigation to grasp the situation, Team 3 coordinated with the Saigon port area 1 Customs Branch to check on 2 containers of transshipment, discovered that it contained all cigarettes with the brand PARADOX and U2.


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