ZAMBOANGA CITY – Operatives of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) have seized some PHP17.3 million worth of smuggled assorted cigarettes in an intelligence-driven operation in the Sulu Sea, a naval official announced Thursday.
Lt. Senior Grade Chester Ross Cabaltera, NFWM information officer, said the shipment was seized Tuesday afternoon in Karangdato Point, Kalingalan Caluang, Sulu.
Cabaltera said the Naval Task Group-Sulu deployed a Multi-Purpose Attack Craft and BRP-Alberto Navarette to conduct patrol following an intelligence report that there will be a shipment of smuggled cigarettes through the Sulu Sea.
Cabaltera said the patrolling sailors spotted a fishing boat, Princess Arlyn, steaming in Karangdato Point, which was later found to be loaded with smuggled cigarettes after the conduct of an onboard inspection.
The fishing boat manned by eight crewmembers was carrying some 360 master cases of undocumented assorted cigarettes, the shipment of which was believed to have come from Indonesia and bound for Cotabato City.
It was then towed to the Naval Station Romulo Espaldon that houses the NFWM headquarters.
The crew was taken to Camp Navarro General Hospital for a medical check-up, as a standard procedure, and later turned over to the police. The fishing boat and the contraband were brought to the Bureau of Customs.
Cabaltera said the fishing boat is allegedly owned by a certain Hadji Wari of this city.
Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr., NFWM commander, lauded the operating troops for the successful conduct of the law enforcement operation.
Adaci encouraged the men and women of NFWM to sustain their effort in assisting other government agencies in the enforcement of customs, immigration, and maritime laws in the command’s area of operations. (PNA)