Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps

Ten Vietnamese were arrested on Sunday and Monday as they arrived at a Taiwan airport and charged with smuggling cigarettes into the country.

Officials at Taoyuan International Airport intercepted the cigarette smugglers despite being short of manpower due to tightened border controls on imported meat products to combat African swine fever.

On January 5 and 7, a total of 10 Vietnamese were found with 509 duty-unpaid cigarettes in their baggage, the China Times reported. They can be fined NT$500 for each cigarette, making the total fine in two days NT$254,500 (US$8,265).

A preliminary investigation found the Vietnamese were controlled by smugglers who made them carry different amounts of illicit cigarettes to the island while on travel visas and using budget airlines.