18 Vietnamese arrested for selling smuggled tobacco in Singapore

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Singaporean authorities said Tuesday that two of 18 Vietnamese nationals arrested earlier this month for selling smuggled tobacco had been fined.


Nguyen Thanh Tu, 25, and Truong Thanh Tung, 41, were fined 37,000 Singapore dollars (US$29,800) each as the result of a trial April 4. They will be jailed for three months each if they do not pay the fines.  


Seven of the arrestees were handed over to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA), which will consider immigration charges against them.


The remaining face charges related to smuggling tobacco.


The 18 were arrested during a nine-hour raid of four locations by ICA and Singapore Customs on April 1.


First, the forces arrested Tu and Tung on Kaki Bukit Road 3 near Paya Lebar Air Base at around 5 a.m. while the duo was carrying 10 tobacco boxes and 100 tobacco packs.


Around 20 minutes later, they arrested another Vietnamese national carrying 27 tobacco boxes and 37 packs at Tampines Place some three kilometers away,


The officers then approached a wooden house on East Coast Parkway, which Singaporean authorities called a "lair" of Vietnamese tobacco smugglers, and arrested 10 men and five women.


In a Geylang neighborhood raid, authorities unearthed more than 1,020 packs of tobacco from a manhole in an alley.


Authorities said they had thus seized a total 1,539 packs of tobacco worth a total of 15,300 Singapore dollars.


The arrestees were hired by Vietnamese smugglers to sell the tobacco in Kaki Bukit, Tampines and Geylang, according to Singapore Customs.


As for tobacco-smuggling related offenses, Singapore levies a fine of 2,000 Singapore dollars for first-time offenders and doubles the fine for second-time offenders. 


In June 2012, Singapore authorities arrested 18 Vietnamese for involvement in a tobacco smuggling ring.


The ringleader Tran Dinh Hieu, 33, was fined 14,000 Singapore dollars and jailed for 16 months in a trial last February.


According to a Thanh Nien source, Hieu entered Singapore four years ago. He rented a house in East Coast and established the ring.


His ring "recruited" people in Ho Chi Minh City and brought them to Singapore to sell smuggled tobacco.

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