THE NAVAL Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM) apprehended MB Queen Juhaya while transporting P8 million worth of smuggled cigarettes worth in the seawaters of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato on Dec. 3.
Meanwhile, six crew members, including a Malaysian national with no legal documents, were also apprehended during the operation.
NFEM spokesperson Lt Commander Jerome Bryan Mauring said the Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Artemio Ricarte (PS37), under the operational control of Naval Task Force 71, was conducting territorial defense operations in the southern waters of Eastern Mindanao when it intercepted the vessel.
PS37 radio challenged the vessel, which increased speed and altered its course instead of responding to the call. Upon investigation, the watercraft was carrying more or less 527 master cases of smuggled cigarettes.
During the search, the law enforcers also found one unlicensed firearm.
PS37 escorted the watercraft, along with its six crew members, to Capt. Feranil Pier, Naval Station Felix Apolinario, Panacan. The suspects also received a medical checkup at Camp Panacan Hospital.
Moreover, the confiscated smuggled items were turned over to the Bureau of Customs District Collection XI for safekeeping while the vessel was kept at the Island Garden City of Samal Ferry Wharf.
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