SMUGGLED CIGARETTES. Policemen and Bureau of Customs (BOC) personnel seize some P2.3 million worth of smuggled cigarettes in separate anti-smuggling operations on Sept. 20 and 21, 2022 in Zamboanga City. The smuggled cigarettes, arrested persons, and motorboat were turned over to the custody of the BOC. (Photo courtesy of Area Police Command-Western Mindanao)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Authorities have arrested three suspects and seized some PHP2.3 million worth of smuggled cigarettes in separate anti-smuggling operations in this southern port city, police officials said Wednesday.

Colonel Alexander Lorenzo, Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO) director, said suspects Arjay Ismael Salim, 35; Jabar Sali Tingkahan, 28; and Asmad Ismael Tingkahan, 43; were arrested around 5:40 a.m. Tuesday near Manalipa Island here.

Lorenzo said the suspects, who are residents of Maluso town, Basilan province, were arrested when joint police and Bureau of Customs (BOC) personnel intercepted a motorboat loaded with contraband while on patrol near the island.

Lorenzo said 36 master cases of assorted cigarettes worth PHP1.2 million were confiscated after the three suspects failed to show documents of their cargo.

Police investigation showed that the smuggled cigarettes came from Jolo, Sulu, and bound for Alicia, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Meanwhile, Col. Richard Verceles, operations chief of the Area Police Command-Western Mindanao, said the ZCPO and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime have also seized assorted smuggled cigarettes around 5 a.m. Wednesday in this city.

Verceles said the smuggled cigarettes consisting of 30 master cases worth over PHP1 million were confiscated from an unoccupied house on the shore of Barangay Maasin here.

All the smuggled cigarettes, arrested suspects, and the motorboat were turned over to the custody of the local BOC office. (PNA)