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Smuggled cigarettes seized in Zamboanga

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Elements of the Philippine Navy and Bureau of Customs have intercepted off Sta Cruz island in this city two motor launches loaded with 108 master cases or about 5,400 reams of assorted and smuggled cigarettes with an estimated market value of P3.8 million.

Zamboanga City Customs district collector Segundo Barte Jr., on Sunday said they intercepted the boats MB Aljabar and MB Almalyn and arrested their six crew members at dawn Saturday.

The boats were bound for this city coming from Sulu province and were ready to unload the contraband for distribution when their crew of three persons each were accosted by Customs and Navy personnel.

The goods were reportedly procured in Sandakan, Malaysia, the market center for traders in this city in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi or the ZamBaSulTa provinces.

According to Barte, he received information that the two boats had already made a stopover in a secluded coastal area in Sulu province before they sailed to this city on Saturday night.

The vessels were escorted to Ensign Majini Pier, Naval Station Romulo Espaldon, NFWM for inspection and proper inventory of the contraband onboard.

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