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STF hijacks massive cigarette consignment from Customs’ probe: Customs says

18 Nov 2023 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

Magistrate reprimands police for disregarding Customs Ordinance 

  • The container had left Colombo Port with the Customs seal on it at 4.59pm

By Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana   

Sri Lanka Customs to launch a comprehensive investigation  into an incident, where the Police Special Task Force (STF) seized a  massive cigarette consignment, which was being transported under the  Customs supervision for its own probe on Thursday.   A forty-foot container filled with a massive stock of  foreign cigarettes, which had been taken into custody by the Customs ‘D’  Branch sometime back, had been ordered to be sent to the Customs  container inspection yard at the Rank Container Terminal (RCT) in  Orugodawatta.   

The container had left Colombo Port with the Customs seal  on it at 4.59 pm and it could proceed only up to Ingurukade Junction when  a team of STF officials had intercepted the container truck and had  taken it into custody.   

The STF had then opened the truck amidst the Customs seal  on it and had taken the container to the Grandpass Police for further  inquiries. 

The Customs officials, after noticing that the truck had  not arrived at the RCT yard within 15 minutes as usual had searched for  it. Since they could not locate the truck they had lodged a complaint  with the Grandpass Police.   
A senior Customs official told the Daily Mirror that he was  being informed by the Grandpass Police to come and accept a large  cigarette consignment.   
Customs Spokesman Director Seevali Arukgoda issuing a  statement said the Customs had however reported the entire incident to  the Maligakanda Magistrate yesterday morning that their consignment had  been forcibly taken into Police STF’s custody even disregarding the  provisions of the Customs Ordinance.   

Maligakanda Magistrate after considering the facts reported  by the Customs had reprimanded the STF and police for disregarding the  Section 136 of the Customs Ordinance and not returning the contraband  back to Customs in due course.   

The Customs said that they were yet to receive the  cigarette consignment from Grandpass Police last evening when this  edition went to press.   

The Customs were also highly concerned as to what were the  actual quantities of the smuggled cigarettes inside the container as the  STF had hijacked their contraband when it was being transported to be  examined.   
A senior Customs official said that they will take legal action against this once the probe is over.