TAIPEI: Approximately 18.6 metric tons of smuggled tobacco was seized at the Port of Taichung in central Taiwan early this month, Taichung Customs said on Wednesday.
Two cargo containers registered as carrying tobacco leaf waste imported from Vietnam were opened for spot checks early this month at the port, Customs officials said.
After removing the outer layers of bags containing tobacco leaf waste, inspectors discovered fine cut tobacco that was not on the list of imported materials.
The smuggled cargo, weighing 18.6 metric tons, was later found to have been hidden among materials imported by a Taichung-based company to produce organic fertilizer.
Officials also determined that the tobacco was in the form of so-called “formula cut cigarettes,” which can easily be used to produce cigarettes, according to Taichung Customs.
The smuggled materials could have been used to produce more than 1.46 million packs of cigarettes, which, if sold domestically, would have evaded more than NT$46 million (US$1.5 million) in cigarette tax and a health surcharge of at least NT$29 million, officials said.
The cigarette tax is currently NT$30.8 per pack in Taiwan. In addition, each pack of cigarettes is also subjected to a health surcharge of NT$20.