THE NAVAL Forces Eastern Mindanao (NFEM) seized 600 master cases of smuggled cigarettes on a fishing vessel and arrested nine individuals, including a minor, off Balut Island, Sarangani, Davao Occidental on Nov. 5.
Lieutenant Commander Jerome Bryan Mauring, NFEM Public Affairs Office chief, said Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Artemio Ricarte (PS37) intercepted M/B Princess Sarah for carrying the contraband.
BRP Artemio Ricarte is under the operational control of Naval Task Force 71 of NFEM, which was then conducting territorial defense operations along the Philippine-Indonesian borders.
Mauring said a suspicious vessel was evading PS37 and was not responding to any radio communication, resulting in its interception.
When they searched the vessel, they found a cargo of an estimated 600 master cases of illicit cigarettes worth P20 million.
The fishing vessel, along with its crew, was towed by PS37 en route to NFEM headquarters in Naval Station Felix Apolinario.
The seized goods are now in Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao in Camp Panacan.
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