K20mil in illegal smoke disappears from wharf

National

By MARJORIE FINKEO
TWO 20-foot containers with 400 cartons of cigarettes with a street value of K20 million have disappeared from the Port Moresby port area while another two containers were destroyed without court orders by PNG Customs or the presence of the media.
An insider, who wished not to be named, told The National that containers of cigarettes were smuggled into the country. Eight million sticks of cigarettes of Pall Mall Red and Cambridge were not destroyed while the others were destroyed at Motukea, the insider said.
“They hide and pack them away for their sales later and most of these are counterfeit products,’ he said.
He said illegal business had been going on as illegally imported products were coming into the country through PNG Customs.
“We do not know how the paperwork is done but these things are coming in.”
The insider said they were told the containers had utensils like plates, cups, pots and spoons but they were not. They were the ones doing the paperwork.
“Media personnel are usually invited to witness the destruction of illegal imports on behalf of the public so it becomes known that illegal practice and smuggling are still going on,” he said.
“There should be transparent there but the destruction was done among themselves.”
The insider said a police unit was invited to witness the burning of the two containers with cigarettes by PNG Customs.
Most of the counterfeit products are coming from Malaysia and the Philippines, he said.
He said PNG Customs said another two containers would be destroyed this weekend.

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