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1million unlawful cigarettes seized by Customs and Police

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 14/08/2019

The Ministry of Customs in a joint operation with the Ministry of Police seized about 1million cigarettes and other small quantities of suspected unlawful goods believed to have been smuggled in to Tonga.

The items were seized during a search warrant carried out by 100 law enforcement officers from Customs and Police to about 20 premises a mixture of retail and wholesale outlets as well as private premises across Tongatapu’s Central and Western Districts believed to be selling and storing illegal cigarettes and other illegal items.

The estimated street value of the cigarettes seized is 1.19 million pa’anga. In a press release from the Ministry of Customs it stated that This is the largest confiscation of illegal cigarettes by the Ministry and Tonga Police in this last decade.

It added – that if these goods remained in the black market, they would have replaced supply of genuine goods and the revenue loss to government.

However – Police are now working with Customs to finalize investigations and laying the necessary criminal charges on those believed and found to be involved in the unlawful importations of these prohibited cigarettes.

This is part of the Ministry of Revenue & Customs move to achieve its mission which is to ensure Tonga’s border is secure, encourage the legal facilitation of trade and generating of government revenue for the benefit and well-being of the Tongan people.

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