The Customs officers today seized a 20-foot container with cigarettes worth over Rs.90 million while attempting to smuggle them into the country, Customs Director- General Maj. Gen. (Rtd.) Vijitha Ravipriya said.
He said the cargo in the container was declared to the customs as scaffoldings which are used for building construction.
A consignment of Chinese-made cigarettes worth Rs. 90,816,000 was declared as scaffoldings, he said.
"The container was received at the Gray-Line 02 container yard at Grandpass for customs imspection. The 20 ft. container was ordered by a businessman from a leading Colombo- based building construction firm. The scaffolding consignment was imported from China and arrived at the Colombo Port on February 28.
Customs officers who opened the container found abnormalities at the tip of the scaffoldings, which led to the discovery of the consignment of cigarettes," the Director General said.
"The container packed with 344 scaffolding - each 10 ft. in length. The scaffoldings were covered with metal sheets on both sides. The customs officers found 22 cigarette cartons in each scaffolding concealed inside the metal bars.
The officials found six varieties of Chinese manufactured cigarettes comprising of 1,513,600 sticks. A total number of 7,568 cigarette cartons were found hidden in those scaffoldings," he said.
The importer who got down the container to the country and the wharf clerk of the company have been arrested by the customs officers, the Customs chief added. (Chaturanga Samarawickrama and T.K.G Kapila)
Pix by T.K.G Kapila