Smuggling of contraband surges in Singapore

The number of contraband smuggling cases in Singapore increased by nearly 25 per cent in 2013, according to a report from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

The number of contraband smuggling cases in Singapore increased by nearly 25 per cent in 2013, according to a report from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

The number of cases increased from 80,200 in 2012 to 99,700 in 2013.

Bird's nest, contraband cigarettes, loose tobacco, firecrackers, ninja stars and knuckle dusters are some of the contraband items that have been confiscated by the ICA.

In one particular case, the ICA and the Singapore Customs seized 5,781 cartons of contraband cigarettes that were being smuggled in modified petroleum drums at the Tanjong Pagar Scanning Station in October 2013.

The potential customs duty and goods and services tax (GST) evaded were estimated to be at S$468,000

In its “Annual Statistics Report 2013”, released on Wednesday, the ICA said, “This shows that the measures taken, including intensive public awareness efforts and cooperation with enforcement agencies have been effective in foiling smuggling attempts,”

Immigration offences

Meanwhile, fewer immigration offenders, such as illegal immigrants and overstayers, were arrested in 2013.

The ICA said that 2,530 were arrested last year, 50 fewer offenders than the previous year, continuing the decline seen since 2001.

However, the number of illegal immigrant harbourers and employers showed significant increases in 2013.

The number of harbourers of illegal immigrants arrested last year more than tripled to 233 from 77 the year before.

More employers of illegal immigrants were also arrested with the number more than doubling to 97 last year from 41 the previous year.

The ICA explained that one of the reasons for the sharp increase was that it took over investigative and associated functions for harbouring and illegal employment cases from the police in July 2012, and that enabled it to have better oversight of enforcement immigration related offences.

The agency said that it cleared about 203 million travelers last year, a 3.6 per cent increase from the year before.

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