TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Kaohsiung Customs seized a shipping container filled with smuggled North Korean cigarettes worth more than NT$50 million (US$1.6 million) on Friday (June 21), Liberty Times News reported.
A sniffer dog alerted customs officials to the suspicious container at dock number 65 on Friday evening. Inside the 40-foot container, they found stacks of untaxed cigarettes, which had been declared as “plastic pallets,” and seized them on the spot.
The seized cargo included 400 cartons of Arirang cigarettes and 1,000 cartons of Amrokgang, produced by the North Korea State Tobacco Monopoly. The customs officials said that it was the first time North Korean-brand cigarettes had been discovered in Taiwan.
The cargo was scheduled to be shipped from Vietnam to China via the Port of Kaohsiung. However, health warnings in traditional Chinese characters were found on the cigarette packs, leading to officials to suspect that the contents of the container were originally planned to be swapped in Taiwan.
Kaohsiung Customs said that the increased “health and welfare surcharge of tobacco products” and the “tobacco and alcohol tax” had led to the higher price of cigarettes and thus an increase in smuggling activity in recent years. All of the seized tobacco will be destroyed, it added.