Van stopped at Lanao del Sur COVID-19 checkpoint yields illegal cigarettes

Van stopped at Lanao del Sur COVID-19 checkpoint yields illegal cigarettes

ILIGAN CITY—Authorities intercepted and seized on Wednesday (Nov. 25) at least 80 boxes of illegal cigarettes at a quarantine checkpoint in Lanao del Sur.

Col. Rex Derilo, Lanao del Sur police chief, said the contraband was in a cargo van and was uncovered at the checkpoint in Saguiaran town.

The driver and his two companions were first asked to present quarantine passes and medical certificates but they failed to do so, leading to a closer inspection of the van.

Derilo said the illegal cigarettes were concealed among packs of junk food.

The three were held at the Saguiaran municipal police station for questioning.

They told police that they were offered P300 each to bring the cargo to Saguiran. They said the person who contracted them gave only a first name and phone number.

Derilo said someone from Saguiaran would have picked up the goods and paid the three men for their services had police not uncovered the illegal cigarettes.

Derilo identified the three as Owen Lestojas, Michael Chrysler Jhon Gonzaga and Reyson Tolla, all residents of Cagayan de Oro City.

Maj. Allan Benasing, Saguiaran police chief, cited the driver as saying the illegal goods were first brought from Cagayan de Oro to the town of Initao, Misamis Oriental where these were loaded into the van.

Angelo Andrade, information officer of the Bureau of Customs, said Customs officials have yet to determine the value of the seized items.

The three arrested men were brought for inquest in a Marawi City court. They face charges of violating health protocol and the tariff and Customs law.