CIGARETTES have shot to the top of the list of smuggled dutiable items in the country following a price hike in tobacco goods in November 2010.
This was disclosed during a meeting between Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) officials and grassroots leaders of Mukim Pengkalan Batu.
Mouse trails are being used to transport the undeclared goods into the country and RBPF is deploying forest rangers to combat smuggling activities.
Chairing the meeting yesterday, Superintendent (Supt) Pengiran Hj Zamani Pengiran Hj Ahmed said that while inspections made at customs checkpoints were clear, smugglers are using mouse trails to flee when they sense the presence of enforcers.
“The RBPF and specifically the Reserve Unit ‘C’ Company will be taking lengths to improve and enhance the strategy in suppressing (smuggling activities), and improving the welfare (of the community) by deploying personnel 24/7 in the concerned areas,” he said.
A spokesperson from the police said: “It is a cat-and-mouse game, with smugglers attempting to escape once they see police presence such as roadblocks.”
Police said smugglers are now focusing on cigarettes, with the items surpassing alcohol as the contraband of choice.
Authorities in Brunei remain vigilant with seizures taking place over the previous year being brought to court and convicted with the majority pleading guilty.
In the last three months alone, the court heard at least 14 cases of cigarette smuggling that were brought to court. Since its inception in 2000, the forest rangers have succeeded in preventing 17 cases of smuggling with 16 successful arrests.
Supt Pg Hj Zamani said the meeting was an initiative to engage the community in fighting smuggling activities through the community leaders, village consultative councils and neighbourhood watch to ensure the nation’s peace and welfare.
“The objective of this meeting is to discuss the activities of smuggling of alcoholic drinks and cigarettes along mouse trails,” said Supt Pg Hj Zamani, who is also the officer in command of the Reserve Unit at the RBPF.
He added that from the dialogue session, the RBPF stands to benefit from the information, perspective and insight of the village elders.
The meeting was also attended by Penghulu of Mukim Pengkalan Batu Hj Tahir Hj Tarip and village chiefs of Kampung Bebuluh, Kg Wasan, Kg Limau Manis and Kg Junjungan.
— The Brunei Times/Asia News Network