An office of the Coast Guard Administration, New Taipei City, Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps

After a four-month-long investigation, the Keelung District Prosecutors Office is pressing charges against a ship captain who allegedly attempted to smuggle contraband cigarettes worth NT$26 million (US$842,326) into the island country in June this year.

On June 24, the authorities found a total of 188 boxes of contraband cigarettes on the shore at Yanliao, New Taipei City, the China Daily News reported.

Using radar, the Coast Guard Administration detected a high-speed boat, which was later confirmed as the Mongolian-registered vessel Hai Rui Hao. It was spotted around 21 nautical miles away at an islet north of Taiwan. The Coast Guard suspected that it may be responsible for the unloading of the illegal cigarettes found onshore.

Officers raided the boat, where two Taiwanese, one of them identified as the captain surnamed Hsueh, and three Filipino men were found, fast asleep. Another 893 boxes of contraband cigarettes which were wrapped in waterproofing and which resembled the packages recovered onshore were seized from the vessel.

On October 31, Hsueh was charged by the Keelung District Prosecutors Office for violating Section 45 of the Tobacco and Alcohol Administration Act. The other Taiwanese man and the Filipino crew members were not charged.

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