5 arrested after R30 million cigarettes smuggled into South Africa

BULAWAYO – South African police arrested five suspects after cigarettes worth R30 million were smuggled into the country from Zimbabwe.

The five, whose nationalities were not revealed, were expected to appear at the Musina Magistrates Court on Monday.

The bust was made on February 25 after the Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation received a tip off about illicit cigarettes that were kept at a farm between Musina and Beitbridge.

A sting operation was conducted leading to the discovery and seizure of illicit cigarettes worth R30 million.

The suspects aged between 26 and 44 were arrested for contravening the Customs and Excise Act.

“When the team arrived at the identified farm, they found a truck and a tractor with trailer loaded with suspected illicit cigarettes that were covered with bricks pallets,” police said in a statement.

“A preliminary investigation led to the discovery of a bakkie and another truck in the vicinity that were also fully loaded with suspected illicit cigarettes. The value of the seized suspected illicit cigarettes is over R30 million. The team worked throughout the night trying to safeguard the exhibit and locate the suspects.”

The police added that rigorous efforts were underway to fight the smuggling of illicit cigarettes in the country by dismantling and paralysing syndicate operations.

Cheap tobacco manufactured in Zimbabwe continues to flood the South African market through smuggling syndicates which are reportedly making billions of rand.

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