Major cigarette smuggling racket kingpin arrested
Contraband worth Rs. 45 m recovered from Minuwangoda

By Shamindra Ferdinando


The Excise Department over the weekend busted a major illegal cigarettes racket. Acting on public complaints received by the Department, the Narcotics Division Saturday night (Aug. 14) raided a luxury house in the Minuwangoda police area, where officers recovered a huge consignment of cigarettes worth approximately Rs. 45 million. They had been smuggled from China.

Responding to a query by The Island, Excise Superintendent Prabath Jayawickrema said that the raiding party had arrested two persons, including the main suspect involved in the smuggling operation.

Those involved in the lucrative cigarette smuggling had stepped up purchase of cigarettes of Chinese origin in view of heightened surveillance on imports from Dubai, a major operations centre for smugglers.

Excise Superintendent Jayawickrema said that the suspects

would be produced before Commissioner General of Excise D. G. M. V. Happuarachchi tomorrow.

The Excise Department comes under the purview of Finance and Planning Ministry. Excise Chief Happuarachchi yesterday told The Island that a fine would be imposed following an inquiry. Jayawickrema and Happuarachchi declined to discuss the detection on the grounds that it would hinder investigations.

The elite Special Task Force (STF) carried out several raids in 2009 and this year targeting cigarette smugglers. According to STF headquarters, large stocks of contraband had been recovered from businessmen. The detected the biggest consignment of illegally imported cigarettes from Sapugaskanda last December. The commandos seized R.s 48 million worth of cigarettes along with three suspects.

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