Customs authorities, backed by intelligence and Coast Guard operatives, recently seized suspected smuggled rice, sugar and cigarettes worth P306 million in several areas of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), as the government strengthens its anti-smuggling operations in the region.
Authorities embarked on an anti-smuggling drive in Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, in line with the recent issuance of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero of seven letters of Authority to curb hoarding and smuggling operations in the area.
The warehouses that underwent inspection were Hadji Warid Warehouse 1, 2 and 3; Minham, Minham 2; Jundilan Warehouse 1 and 2; and Almali Marketing that yielded 100,000 bags of rice and 30,000 bags of sugar with an estimated value of P160 million.
The inspection at the Baliwasan Warehouse 1, meanwhile, yielded 30,090 bags of rice and 20 bags of sugar worth P30 million; while Baliwasan Warehouse 2 yielded 28,000 bags of rice worth P56 million.
A separate operation on board MV Maria Rebecca yielded 85 cartons of cigarettes worth P4.9 million. A similar inspection on board M/B RJ Express yielded 5,081 bags of rice worth around P5 million. A subsequent operation on board MV Hulk, meanwhile, yielded some 50,000 bags of rice worth P50 million.
The seized items are now under the custody of the Port of Zamboanga.