Law enforcement authorities seized 231 master cases and 391 reams of smuggled cigarettes from a warehouse in Batangas City in Barangay Cuta, Batangas City.

The joint operation involved the Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Batangas, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Task Force Aduana, and the Coast Guard K9 Field Operating Unit-Southern Tagalog.

According to the Coast Guard District Southern Tagalog (CGDST), the operation was launched based on information regarding the illicit storage and distribution of the contraband goods.

Ahead of conducting the inventory, representatives of the BOC presented the warehouse owner with a letter of authorization and a mission order. This initial step was carried out to ensure proper protocol and transparency throughout the operation.

The PCG played a role in ensuring the security of the operation. It provided protection for the Customs operatives and facilitated paneling inspections through their Coast Guard K9 unit. These measures were implemented to maintain the safety and integrity of the operation, said the CGDST.

As mandated by Republic Act 10863, commonly known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act of 2016, the owner of the warehouse has a grace period of 15 days to provide the necessary documentation demonstrating that the relevant charges and taxes have been duly paid for the confiscated goods.

The CGDST said failure to provide such documentation within this timeframe could result in the initiation of forfeiture proceedings.

In accordance with the stipulations of the aforementioned law, the confiscated items were subsequently transported to a secure warehouse located in Sta. Ana, Manila, where they will be kept under careful supervision.

The combined efforts of the involved agencies, coupled with the strict enforcement of relevant laws and regulations, exemplify the commitment of Philippine law enforcement to combat illicit trade and uphold the integrity of customs procedures.

As of the time of this report, the authorities have yet to announce the exact estimated value of the confiscated goods. However, they continue to work diligently to ensure that the proper legal processes are followed and that justice is upheld.

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