CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Some P7.5 million worth of counterfeit popular cigarette brands were confiscated by customs officials in two warehouses in this city on Wednesday, October 12.
Officials from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) central office swoop down on two warehouses near Cogon Market, and found hundreds of boxes of cigarettes brands, including Marlboro, Lucky Strike, Winstons, and Camel.
A technical expert from Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) confirmed that the confiscated cigarettes bearing their brands were fake after he scanned the seals with an app from the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
The seal on a legitimate cigarette pack, when scanned, will show its BIR registration code while the fake ones will show “Invalid” or unidentified seal.
The counterfeit cigarettes were copied from brands of the British-American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, and PMFTC, among other manufacturers.
Sonny Sarmiento, technical assistant at the office of the BOC commissioner, said that the warehouse along Vicente Roa yielded hundreds of boxes of smuggled items, not just cigarettes. Meanwhile,the warehouse along Domingo Velez Street yielded cigarettes and unauthorized stored fireworks.
The BOC identified the owner of the confiscated materials as a certain Mister Chan, a Taiwanese who operates businesses in this city.
Sarmiento said that, based on their initial investigation, the owner will be facing possible charges of smuggling, copyrights infringement, and violations of tax and Food and Drugs Administration laws.
The warehouse in V. Roa Street also stored medicines, skin lotions, whitening pills, mosquito coils.
“This is a violations of the FDA laws. If they cannot show permit and clearances for the medicines from the FDA, this medicines obviously came from China,” Sarmiento said.
Sarmiento said that the a conservative estimate of the confiscated items could be at least P10 million or more. “This will be assessed by the BOC, but the cigarettes alone are worth around P7.5 million,” Sarmiento said.
“The owner of the contrabands will be facing more charges as the investigation goes on,” Sarmiento added. – Rappler.com