Naval officials and police agencies have seized illegal cigarettes valued at 30 million baht and the boat used to transport the goods. One thousand nine hundred boxes of cigarettes were discovered.
Allegedly, the smugglers were trying to move their shipment without having to pay tax in Thailand.
According to a Naval source that government agencies had received information from a similar case from the Excise Department in southern Thailand’s Krabi. The information provided indicated boats were carrying illegal cigarettes from Krabi destined for other countries. The first stop was reported to be Indonesia.
Police have arrested 3 suspects, 49 year old Dej Tubtimmai and 32 year old Wanchai Imsangtong. The third suspect was not named.
The illegal cigarettes were distributed to 2 speedboats somewhere in the ocean off the southern province of Trang, yesterday. It is not clear exactly when or where the police seized the boat, “Decho Cargo 89”, and arrested the 3 suspects.
Thirty percent of cigarettes sold illegal
Meanwhile, Thailand’s Excise Department in mid-June presented a parliamentary committee tasked with drafting the 2022 budget bill with the finding that up to 30% of all cigarettes now sold in the country are illegal, constituting mostly smuggled contraband.
At the same time, sales of legal products fell continually on the background of ongoing public sector anti-smoking campaigns and tobacco tax increases. Excise tax on tobacco is an important part of government budget funding, contributed around THB2.2 billion ($70.5 mn) to state coffers in 2020, or about 11% of all excise taxes collected by the department that year.
The excise department also said that declining cigarette sales undercut the livelihoods of local tobacco farmers, as several rounds of tobacco tax increases over the past decade led many consumers to resort to illegal products. Illicit cigarettes are widely available in Thai cities and towns from informal sellers, who often operate right under the noses of local police.
Source: The Thaiger, Tobacco Asia