Contraband
1) The metal cutting machine which was used to conceal the duty-unpaid cigarettes. 2) The metal cutting machine being pried open. 3) Duty-unpaid cigarettes found inside the metal cutting machine. ICA

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said that their officers have conducted a search on a 20-footer container at an industrial building in Tuas and recovered more than 4000 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes on March 26.

In a news release, ICA said that the container was earlier presented for clearance at the Tanjong Pagar Scanning Station, where the officials detected anomalies in the scanned images of the consignment declared as "metal cutting machine".

Later, the container was sealed by the ICA officers for further checking at the trader's premises.

While checking the container the ICA officers observed that there was a black plastic inside the machine. Then the officers opened the machine and uncovered a total amount of 4260 cartons and 140 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes, which were seized by the ICA officers immediately.

ICA clarified that the total duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded amounted to about $364,999.60 and $26,914.24 respectively. However, the authority has handed over the case to the Singapore Customs for further investigation.

ICA's annual statistics of 2018 states that the number of contraband cases detected at ICA's checkpoints has increased by 19 percent from 90327 in 2017 to 107771 in last year.

In 2018, lorries and heavy commercial vehicles continued to be one of the most common conveyances for contraband items. This is of concern because the sheer size of such vehicles allows large quantities of contraband items or even security-sensitive materials such as toxic industrial chemicals and explosives to be concealed within the consignments or the modified compartments of these vehicles.

To address some of these challenges, ICA uses radiographic scanners to scan cargo vehicles, and implemented bus scanners at Tuas Checkpoint last year. These scanners are able to screen huge buses and cargo vehicles, allowing us to identify secret compartments and contraband items more effectively and quickly.