POLICE forces in Zamboanga City and its province Zamboanga del Sur, conducted stepped up land and sea operations against illicit cigarette trade, confiscating over P18 million worth of smuggled cigarettes in their series of enforcements.
Three of the operations took place during checkpoint activities while three others were conducted during sea patrol monitoring in an intensified border control against illegal entries and smuggling activities, all unfolded along the vicinity waters off Zamboanga City.
The latest sea patrol operation led by elements of 2nd Zamboanga City Mobile Force Company “Seaborne” (ZCMFC) headed by P/Capt. Villamor dela Cruz Jr. took place along the vicinity waters off Sinunuc Island, Zamboanga City on July 21.
Seaborne operatives intercepted a motorized wooden sea vessel locally called “jungkong” with Princess Alyesha marking and confiscated assorted smuggled cigarettes estimated to be worth P3.990,000.
During the interrogation, the crewmembers of the sea craft headed by its captain Acob Kella Alpha told investigators their goods came from Jolo, Sulu but disclosed no details about the owners of the smuggled cigarettes.
Confiscated were 92 master cases of Fort Green and 22 master cases of New Berlin Red which were slated to be distributed to Zamboanga City and other parts of Mindanao.
The same Seaborne personnel seized 147 master cases of assorted smuggled cigarettes with an estimated market value of P5,145,00 on July 19 at around 11pm within the vicinity waters off Barangay Cawit, Zamboanga City.
The breakdown of the seized items were 49 master cases of Astro Menthol, 40 master cases of New Berlin Red, 50 master cases of Bros Red, 5 master cases of Fort Green and 3 master cases of Astro Red.
The crewmembers of the “Fazza” sea vessel were identified as Alsidi Absara, Yusop Abdulmaid, Sudisin Usman, Aberkhan Unda and Ilahan Muntaser.
Another sea patrol surveillance monitoring and operation resulted in the seizure of 211 master cases of assorted smuggled cigarettes with an estimated amount of P7,385,000, on board another “jungkong” named Shador and the apprehension of its six crewmembers, including the vessel captain.
Authorities said they flagged down the vessel also in Sinunuc Island, Zamboanga City at around 10:30pm of July 14 and after the crewmembers failed to show legal documents they uncovered 128 master cases of New Berlin Red and 83 master cases of Cannon Menthol.
Arrested were the ship captain Julamad Banggali and his men Nurman Inlami, Ronald Banggali, Elvia Jaladil, Almajar Salim and Teting Salim.
Meanhile, members of the Zamboanga City PNP Station 5 manning the checkpoint at Sitio Lumiyap, Barangay Divisoria Zamboanga City intercepted an Everest van loading with 10 master cases of San Marino White at around 11pm on July 10.
Authorities arrested the driver of the vehicle identified as Jani Sabuddin and is now detained at the PNP Zamboanga City Station 5.
Another successful checkpoint interception took place along the national Highway of Purok Talisay 2, Barangay Lower Landing, Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur on July 6 with elements of 4th Platoon, 1st ZSPMFC led by P/Capt. Renato Obiaden confiscating 16 master cases and 14 reams of smuggled Union White cigarettes.
Obiaden said the estimated market value of the confiscated smuggled items which were reportedly came from Zamboanga City were placed at P850,000.
On July 23, at around 7:30pm, local PNP personnel seized from an abandoned trike-cab several reams of smuggled cigarettes infront of a sari-sari store in Purok Mantes, Barangay Baganian, Tabina town, Zamboanga del Sur at around 7:30pm on July 23.
The abandoned vehicle was reported to the Zamboanga del Sur 2nd PMFC by the owner of the sari-sari store.
Confiscated from the trikecab were 60 reams of Astro, 58 reams of Fort and 30 reams of New Berlin.
Both successful checkpoint operations were tip off by concerned citizens who gave PNP personnel details of the incoming vehicles loaded with smuggled cigarettes.