VCN - Although the competent forces have enhanced the prevention and seizures, the cigarette smuggling still takes place complicatedly.
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Cigarette brands 555, Jet, Hero are smuggled products in border areas Photo: Quang Hung
Through anti-smuggling, the Customs control force realized that the smuggling and illegal transport of cigarettes across the northern borders was rising. Smuggled cigarette brands 555, ESSE, Marlboro, Thunderbay, Cigar, and Chinese language brands are flooding into provinces such as Quang Ninh, Hanoi, Hai Phong, Cao Bang and Lao Cai.
On the land border route, smugglers often divide cigarettes into small packages and hire porters to take them across borders at night or early mornings, then transport them by motorbike or hide them in trucks or passenger buses to transport to the domestic market. Some smugglers buy cigarettes from duty free shops with permitted norm, and then take them to China for dividing or hiding in goods traded and transported by rudimentary vehicles to gathering places inland. Also, others make wrong Customs declarations on name of goods or hide cigarettes in goods which have been declared for illegal transport across borders.
Compared to the northern provinces, the smuggling and illegal transport of cigarettes in the southern provinces, especially the south western border (including Binh Phuoc, Dong Thap, Tay Ninh, Kien Giang, An Giang and Ho Chi Minh City) has reduced but has potential risks.
Cigarettes smuggled on this route are brands Jet, Hero, 555, ESSE, Scott, Nelson, Ram, Bayon, and Cowboy Original, which are familiar with the border citizens and local citizens in communes next to the borders.
In addition, some people who are passengers on exit and entry for trade purposes, drivers and bus attendants on Vietnam – Cambodian international transport route, drivers of container tractors, and casino and dancing hall attendants in Cambodia, also transport smuggled cigarettes.
For example, on the international bus routes, people often hide cigarettes in their luggage or abuse the norm of luggage upon Customs clearance. Smuggled cigarettes are gathered at Cambodian borders and divided into small bags, nylon bags and are then transported across borders inland by motorbike or motorboat.
Facing complicated smuggling and illegal transport of cigarettes, under the direction of the Prime Minister (Directive No. 30/CT-TTg dated 30th September 2014, on enhancing the anti-smuggling of cigarettes), the Ministry of Finance guided the Customs sector to actively grasp the situation and promptly handed unlawful acts.
The General Department of Customs has specified the guided contents by key fighting plans that focus on key routes and areas. Specifically, municipal and provincial Customs Departments to strictly follow and effectively implement the Prime Minister’s directions, strengthen close inspections and control the transport of cigarettes across borders or across two sub-border gates and Customs supervision areas.
The Customs force also signed Coordination Regulation with the competent forces such as border guards, public security and market management to exchange information and enhance the strict inspection and control of key areas to promptly detect and handle smuggling chains and groups at borders in a timely fashion.
Notably, the number of cigarette smuggling cases of large amounts seized by the Customs tended to rise. A typical case was that the Northern sea fleet (Fleet 1 under the Investigation and Anti-smuggling Department of General Department of Vietnam Customs) discovered and handled 2 cars carrying 175 buckets containing 87,500 cigarette packs, worth VND 3.5 billion. Another case was that the Cao Bang Customs control force collaborated with the Public security force to detect and detain 18 tons of cigarette parcels (368 parcels) smuggled from China.
According to the General Department of Customs, cigarette smuggling is still sophisticated, this is because the border citizens stiff suffer from a hard life, unstable jobs and are easy to be abused and enticed by smugglers to carry smuggled goods. On the other hand, specialized equipment and tools for anti-smuggling are insufficient and fail to meet requirements of tasks set out. Owners of motorbikes carrying smuggled cigarettes seized are not found, because these vehicles are sold many times to many different people without any sale documents.
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Besides achieved results, to raise the efficiency of prevention, detection and fight against smuggling and illegal transport of cigarettes, the General Department of Customs proposed the Government and local authorities to develop policies to improve the economy of the border areas and create jobs for border citizens. Infringing vehicles were proposed to be broken, then sold for scrap. Because if these vehicles are confiscated and sold at auction, smugglers will buy them and use them to carry smuggled goods. Furthermore, the amount earned from selling these vehicles is very small and not enough to pay the fee for verification of origin, especially they are not eligible for traffic safety and naturally become convenient tools for smuggling.
|As a result, after more than of implementing the Directive 30, the Customs forces from General Department level, Department level to Branch level have discovered and handled 797 cases with 100 smugglers, seized more than 2.6 million tons of smuggled cigarettes; 77.6 tons of tobacco materials and 25,785 of cigars. Of which there were 222,306 packs of cigarette brand 555; 210,852 packs of cigarette brand Jet; 154,205 packs of cigarette brand Hero; 290,560 packs of cigarette brand JOHN|
By Quang Hung/ Huyen Trang