5 lorry drivers jailed for smuggling more than S$200,000 worth of chewing tobacco into Singapore

Singapore

SINGAPORE: Five men, aged between 37 and 51, have been jailed for smuggling chewing tobacco worth about S$213,000 into Singapore, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Tuesday (Sep 22).

Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers uncovered more than 53,200 sachets of chewing tobacco hidden in Malaysia-registered bowser lorries at Tuas checkpoint on Sep 7. 

The tobacco was found in black polythene bags hidden in various parts of the lorries, such as bed bunks and engine compartments, said HSA in a press release.

The packages contained Khaini tobacco, a type of chewing tobacco consisting of moist, dark brown tobacco leaf mixed with slaked lime or spices, said the authority.

HSA ICA Tuas Checkpoint chewing tobacco smuggle

The compartment under the bed bunks (left) and the engine compartment of a bowser lorry where black polythene packages were found (right). (Photos: HSA) 

“HSA’s investigations revealed that the smugglers used a similar mode of operation in their smuggling activities,” it added.

All five Malaysian nationals had been instructed to proceed to designated carparks in Singapore to hand over the chewing tobacco to a contact person.

It is illegal to import, distribute and sell chewing tobacco in Singapore.

The men were sentenced to five to 16 weeks’ jail.

The import, distribution and sale of imitation tobacco products such as shisha, smokeless tobacco and chewing tobacco are banned in Singapore. Anyone convicted of the offence faces a jail term of up to six months, a fine of up to S$10,000, or both. The penalties are double for repeat offenders. 

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