SMUGGLED CIGARETTES. A team of police and customs personnel inspect boxes containing P7.6 million worth of assorted smuggled cigarettes that were seized off Sta. Cruz Island, Zamboanga City on Tuesday (Feb. 7, 2023). The shipment came from Jolo, Sulu. (Photo courtesy of Area Police Command - Western Mindanao)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Authorities arrested five suspects and seized more than PHP7.6 million worth of smuggled cigarettes off Sta. Cruz Island here, top police officials said Tuesday.

Col. Richard Verceles, operations chief of the Area Police Command - Western Mindanao, said the illicit shipment was seized at about 2:10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Arrested were Muktar Abdulgapur, 48, the skipper; Junjun Asaddi, 25; Jumor Asaddi, 35; Ernie Jawabi, 29; Merham Jumdail, 28.

Verceles said the joint team of the 2nd Zamboanga City Mobile Force “Seaborne” Company and Bureau of Customs (BOC) were on patrol when they chanced upon a motorboat marked “Mj Wafiya” sailing towards the shore of Barangay Baliwasan.

He said when inspected, the motorboat was found loaded with 219 master cases of assorted cigarettes worth PHP7,665,000.

The crewmen failed to present any document of the cargo they were transporting from Jolo.

The crewmen, the motorboat, and its cargo will be turned over to the BOC for proper disposition. (PNA)