Taipei, Taiwan seized an estimated NT$596 million (US$19.68 million) worth of cigarettes being smuggled into the country in the first five months of the year, the National Treasury Administration (NTA) said Friday.
A total of 9,303,665 packs of untaxed cigarettes were seized by Customs officers across the country during that time, up 95.76 percent from the same period last year, according to the NTA.
Kaohsiung and Keelung contributed the largest seizures, using eight major busts to confiscate 5,886,490 packs of cigarettes that were being smuggled through container shipments.
The NTA said rising tax surcharges imposed by the government on tobacco in recent years have led cigarette prices to continue to climb, resulting in more smuggling.
The government will continue to intensify efforts to crack down on any liquor and tobacco smuggling into the country, it said, adding that smugglers are subject to a prison sentence of up to three years and fines of anywhere between NT$200,000 to NT$10 million (US$330,360)
Those caught delivering, selling or distributing untaxed liquor and cigarettes will also be fined NT$30,000 to NT$500,000, according to the NTA.
The NTA is calling on the public to report counterfeit tobacco and alcohol products, with informants eligible for a cash reward of up to NT$4.8 million (US$158,572).
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel