SEIZED CIGARETTES. Authorities arrest seven suspects and seize some P4.1 million worth of smuggled cigarettes near Manalipa Island, Zamboanga City Tuesday (May 30, 2023). The contraband came from Jolo, Sulu, and was bound for Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur when intercepted. (Photo courtesy of 2ZCMFC)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Authorities here have arrested seven suspects and seized some PHP4.1 million worth of smuggled cigarettes in this southern port city, a top police official said Wednesday.

Col. Alexander Lorenzo, Zamboanga City Police Office director, identified the arrested suspects as Atara Sakilan Wahab, 60, motorboat skipper; Jester Ares, 22; Nabil Abdurasad, 50; Eldisen Ahalil, 29; Omar Mahmor, 24; Mhamor Baddon, 48; and Khay Atara, 19.

Lorenzo said the group was blocked with the smuggled shipment around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday near Manalipa, an island village in this city.

Operatives of the 2nd Zamboanga City Mobile Force Company (2ZCMFC) together with Bureau of Customs (BOC) personnel were on seaborne patrol when they chanced upon a motorboat marked “Dickies” in the waters off Manalipa.

The motorboat, which is manned by a seven-man crew, was found loaded with 119 master cases of assorted cigarettes worth PHP4.1 million.

Lorenzo said the crew failed to present documents of the cigarettes they were transporting from Jolo, Sulu bound for Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur.

He said the arrested suspects and their contraband were taken to the 2ZCMFC headquarters for inspection and inventory before their turnover to the BOC for proper disposition.

The confiscation of smuggled cigarettes Tuesday was the fourth here for this month.

On May 5, police and BOC operatives arrested two suspects and seized PHP4.4 million worth of smuggled cigarettes in the waters of coastal Recodo village.

On May 10, police arrested a suspect while some PHP3.9 million worth of smuggled cigarettes were seized in Barangay Maasin.

A day after, authorities collared a suspect and confiscated more than PHP4 million worth of smuggled cigarettes in Barangay Calarian. (PNA)