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New methods of smuggling goods are a cause for concern at Singaporean checkpoints

Smugglers are disguising contraband goods in consignments declared as ‘children’s play mats’ and household items

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 2:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 2:11pm

Luxury cars have emerged as smugglers’ preferred mode of transport for bringing contraband items from across the Causeway into Singapore, with five such cases caught last year, up from just one case each in 2015 and 2014,

Although the number of contraband cases detected at Singapore’s checkpoints went down by eight per cent to 88,050 cases last year, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) flagged the “increasingly interesting and creative ways” used by smugglers to hide illegal goods as a cause for concern in its annual statistics report.

In an operation on September 17, the ICA found 347 cartons and 530 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes concealed in various modified compartments of a luxury car, like the car’s right rear door, front bumper and dashboard.

Contraband items were also hidden in consignments declared to contain ‘children’s play mats’ and ‘decorative stools’, or disguised as household items. For example, on August 29 last year, ICA and Singapore Customs officers found 1,840 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes hidden in a consignment declared as ‘furniture’ at Changi Airfreight Centre.

Some postal articles declared to contain ‘toys’ turned out to be security sensitive items such as airsoft guns and replica pistols.

“These methods of concealment remain a cause for concern, especially in the current security climate, as they could similarly be adopted by terrorists to smuggle dangerous materials such as weapons or explosives into Singapore,” said the ICA in its report.

In the meantime, the authority reported the number of immigration offenders arrested, number of harbourers and employers of immigrant offenders, and number of persons convicted for marriage of convenience offences all dropped by around a third.

Total number of immigration offenders, including illegal immigrants and overstayers, went down 33 per cent to hit 1,278. Number of harbourers and employers of immigration offenders also declined by 31 per cent to 351 cases last year.

Forty-three people were arrested for marriage of convenience offences, down 33 per cent.

New methods of concealing contraband goods cause for concern: ICA