Law enforcement agencies in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho Friday destroyed more than 200,000 packs of smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes in the battle against the illicit tobacco trade in Vietnam.
The burnt cigarettes, worth over VND1 billion (US$62,309) and bearing the Jet and Hero brand names, came under the radar to be confiscated since last October.
The two brands make up some 91 percent of the illegal cigarettes discovered in Vietnam in recent times.
The move is part of the ongoing campaign approved by the Government to destroy smuggled cigarettes of all kinds and to establish the Industry Alliance Reserve to support the fight against illicit cigarettes, said the tobacco association.
“The policy of destroying illicit cigarettes and establishing the Industry Alliance Reserve has been a breakthrough, enabling businesses to join hands with the Government to clear the local market of illegal cigarettes,” said Pham Kien Nghiep, secretary general of the Vietnam Tobacco Association.
Since early this year, cities and provinces have destroyed illicit cigarettes in large quantities, including Hanoi with nearly 38,000 packs, Quang Tri with 72,000, An Giang with 73,000 and Quang Ngai with 107,000 packs.
Over the past two months, the illicit trade showed little sign of abating along the border line in Long An, An Giang and Quang Tri provinces.
In response, local authorities said that next month, task forces in Can Tho and An Giang would inspect local cigarette retailers and act accordingly against those selling cigarettes without legitimate stamps and seals.
The budget for supporting the fight against illicit cigarettes in 2007 is VND35 billion (US$2.19 million), contributed by members of the Vietnam Tobacco Association.
Officers seize 12000 cigarettes
Thousands of pounds worth of smuggled Smokeless nicotine andcigarettes were discovered during a raid by customs officers at a popular car boot sale.
More than 12,000 cigarettes and nine pounds of tobacco were seized from a 46-year-old Sedgley woman, who was selling them at Bilston Market.
Customs Officers revealed tax evasion on the haul was around 5,300 and said criminal charges were being prepared. Investigations are now under way following the operation on Sunday.
Inland Detection Manager for Revenue & Customs, Keith Morgan, warned against money-making schemes on tobacco.
“We operate a robust inland detection role to disrupt those selling counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes,” he said.
“The actions of those selling such goods rob the public purse of around 3 billion a year, which could be invested in vital public services such as hospitals and schools.
“They also undermine genuine, honest retailers.”
He added that customs officers were keen to hear from anyone with information on possible contraband.
“We are keen to work closely with local people and communities in the fight against crime,” he said.
“We would encourage anyone with information relating to illegally-imported goods or tax evasion and fraud to contact our confidential hotline number.”
It comes four months after sex films, fireworks, fake DVDs and alcohol were seized during a police swoop on a large car boot sale near Wolverhampton.
Four traders were caught selling the goods last November at Cols car boot sale off the A449 near Wombourne, which attracts hundreds of visitors from across the region every week.