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P8-M worth of bogus Mighty, Two Moon cigarettes seized in Bulacan

STA. MARIA, Bulacan – Customs agents, together with local police operatives, seized Thursday some P8-million worth of undocumented cigarette packs found in a warehouse located in Barangay Parada, this town.

Seven suspects, including three Chinese nationals, were also arrested.

Armed with a letter of authority, the Customs team, together with policemen and some local government officials, inspected the Environmental Solutions Group warehouse allegedly owned by one Estella Nepumuceno of Barangay San Gabriel, also in this town, and found boxes of undocumented Two Moon and Mighty cigarettes.

Representatives from Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing, Inc., Fortune Tobacco Corporation, and Japan Tobacco Industry (JTI) also joined the inspection and verification.

Col. Lawrence Cajipe, director of the Bulacan Police Provincial Office, said on Friday that based on the reported submitted to him, the arrested suspects were identified as Jianju Chen, Jiancai Shi, Wuzhi Hi, all Chinese nationals; and Cris Rosales, Elmer Ang, Niño Castillo, and Julio Domalaon.

He said that one Niño Castillo, who was wearing a pair of Philippine National Police (PNP) athletic shorts, was walking along a street in Barangay San Vicente-Muzon Road, when he was spotted by chance by the roving patrol of the 4th Maneuver Platoon, 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company (PMFC) of the Bulacan PNP.

The policemen asked Castillo why he was wearing that kind of shorts.

But instead of answering, the suspect ran inside the warehouse where the operatives discovered three Filipino workers and three Chinese nationals, without face masks, loading packs of Mighty, and Moon cigarettes on a wing van truck.

The report added that the police officers sought the assistance of the Joint Inspection Team of Sta. Maria Municipal Business Permit and Licensing Office and coordinated with the local police station to inspect the said warehouse.

“The inspection team asked for the warehouse’s business permits and documents but the caretakers failed to show any and eventually, the seven suspects were arrested and brought to the local police station for proper disposition,” Cajipe said.

The operatives closed the warehouse on Wednesday and returned the following day for the confiscation of the undocumented products.

A criminal complaint for operating a business without a permit; violation of Municipal Ordinance No. 404, Sec 23; Article 179 of the Revised Penal Code (Illegal Use of Uniforms or Insignia); and violation of Republic Act 11332, the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act”, are now being prepared for filing against the suspects before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor. (PNA)