In a swift operation lasting just half an hour, 15 men, aged between 25 and 38, were arrested were arrested on Tuesday October 27, in an operation conducted at Yew Tee Industrial Estate.
378 packets of contraband cigarettes found on them. Officers then combed through the vicinity and seized another 635 packets of contraband cigarettes. The total duty and GST evaded on the cigarettes was close to $8,500.
Further investigations revealed that 14 of the offenders were illegal immigrants and they were charged in Court on October 29 and 30, 2009.
Singapore Customs (SC) together with Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) began plans for the operation two weeks earlier.
Officers monitored the movements of the peddlers, observed how transactions took place with buyers and recorded the 'peak' times for illegal peddling activities.
On the night of the operation, officers kept close watch on a group of suspicious-looking foreigners who were carrying red plastic bags and lurking near the forested area at Yew Tee Industrial Estate.
At 10 p.m. officers moved in and ambushed the men who were suspected to be involved in the peddling of contraband cigarettes.
The peddlers started to flee in all directions in an attempt to escape. The officers chased after and eventually subdued them.
Since January 2009, 11 peddlers - all foreigners - had been arrested and 102 end-consumers fined in Yew Tee. More than 4,000 packets of contraband cigarettes had been seized in the area for the same period.