TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) found 1.63 million packs of smuggled cigarettes with a street value of more than NT$100 million (US$3.54 million) on a ship near the disputed Dongsha Islands in the South China Sea, reports said Friday (March 12).
The catch, just west of the islands, was made on a Togolese-registered freighter on March 6, CNA reported. The cigarettes are suspected to be counterfeit Chinese brands.
The captain, a citizen of Myanmar, told his interviewers the cigarettes had come on board in Cambodia and that their destination was Taiwan. A coast guard vessel escorted the freighter to Kaohsiung, where they arrived on March 9.
The crew members, two Chinese and 10 Myanmar nationals, were subjected to coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention measures upon their arrival. Inspectors counted 295 bags on board, containing more than 1.6 million cigarette packs.
A preliminary investigation concluded the Chinese-brand smokes were actually counterfeit products. The Kaohsiung City Department of Financial Affairs will reportedly determine the nature of the fines to be imposed.