7 nabbed as cops raid fake cigarette factory in Pangasinan

VILLASIS, Pangasinan — Authorities arrested Wednesday two Chinese nationals and five others for alleged manufacturing of counterfeit cigarettes in a warehouse at Barangay Bacag here.

Maj. Fernando Fernandez Jr., Villasis town police chief, said the search for the manufacturing area was conducted following an intelligence report received from the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office Intelligence Branch.

“We coordinated with the local government unit and Mayor Nonato Abrenica issued an executive order for us along with other agencies to conduct inspection. And when we arrived at the area, we immediately saw that they have sanitary violation and they have no permit to operate,” he said in an interview Thursday.

He added they found cigarette packs without content, packaging machines, and alleged Bureau of Internal Revenue strip stamps.

“The machines are big and the warehouse has 1,000 square meters floor area, but they were not able to show us permits, so (we) arrested the suspects,” said Fernandez, who withheld the names of the suspects who were allegedly from Mindanao.

Case for violation of the National Internal Revenue Code and falsification of public documents is being prepared for filing against the arrested suspects, he said.

“We coordinated with the Bureau of Internal Revenue to verify the strip stamps found at the warehouse if these are fake. Additional charges will be filed against the suspects. We are also looking into the responsibility of the warehouse owners and the lessee to the incident,” Fernandez said.

He added the provincial police continues to conduct follow-up operations to determine other areas used in manufacturing fake cigarettes.

“They may be producing fake cigarettes in other areas, we are looking into that,” Fernandez said.

In 2016, a counterfeit cigarette factory was raided in Barangay Unsad here and another at Bugallon town this year. Hilda Austria / PNA – northboundasia.com