It’s not easy being a criminal during the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the coronavirus keeping people in their homes, who are criminals supposed to assault and rob?
Robber: Tell me about it. I’ve had to get an actual job instead of robbing old ladies just to make ends meet.
You poor thing.
Criminals are a determined bunch of fellows, though. Even during a pandemic, they’re willing to risk it all just to make some cold hard cash.
17,000 Cartons of Contraband Cigarettes Found in Yishun Warehouse
Over 17,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes were seized by the authorities from a Yishun warehouse in an operation last week.
Last Wednesday (27 May), ICA officers became suspicious when they came across a vehicle with an attached container at the Pasir Panjang Scanning Station.
After noticing some “anomalies” in the scanned images of their consignment, officers conducted further checks and found some duty-unpaid cigarettes concealed inside metal cabinets.
This was their masterplan?
ICA then handed the case over to Singapore Customs, and after further investigations, Singapore Customs conducted an operation at an industrial building at Yishun Street 23.
There, they observed two pretty incriminating things:
- a man using a forklift to remove metal cabinets from the container
- two other men removing carton boxes containing duty-unpaid cigarettes from metal cabinets and loading the carton boxes back into the container
You can’t exactly defend yourself when the authorities have literally watched you commit a crime.
A whopping 17,250 cartons of contraband cigarettes were seized, and the three men were arrested.
I’m not sure who these people were planning to sell these cigarettes to, though, considering how the coronavirus outbreak has caused many to quit smoking. Even hardcore addicts are stuck in their homes.
Another 35-year-old man was arrested for his involvement, and the four men were charged on Friday (29 May).
Harsh Penalties Await
As you know, the gahmen takes these kinds of offences seriously.
Dealing with duty-unpaid goods in any way, whether it’s buying, selling, possessing, or delivering, are all offences under the Customs Act and the GST Act.
Even if these men have been getting away with this crime for years, they could lose all their profits in an instant now.
According to CNA, those found guilty of this crime can be fined up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded.
The total duty and GST evaded in this case amounted to about S$1.47 million and S$119,270 respectively, which means that the suspects could be fined a total of $63.5 million.
So, was it really worth it in the end?
In addition to that massive fine, they could also be jailed for up to six years.
If you think that buyers won’t be punished as severely as peddlers, think again.
As I previously said, those who buy duty-unpaid goods are also evading duty and GST, so they’re subject to the same penalties that these four men are.
Last year, two Singaporean men were issued composition fines totalling $4,400 for buying contraband cigarettes, reported The Straits Times.
You might save a few bucks on each contraband cigarette pack, but is it really worth it if you end up paying much more later on or even end up in jail?
Unless you’re a penny-pinching maniac, the answer is clearly no.