Navy troops intercepted P15 million worth of undocumented fuel and cigarettes off Tulian Island, Sulu, Tuesday afternoon.
The contraband, whose country of origin has yet to be determined, was found on board the “motor launch” Wish Me Luck Princess after troops stopped the vessel around 1 p.m., Navy spokesman Col. Omar Tonsay said.
Operatives of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao based near the Chinese Pier in Jolo earlier spotted the vessel trying to avoid them, Tonsay said.
This prompted the operatives to intercept and board the vessel, he said.
The motor launch, which had 13 crewmembers on board, was found to be carrying 796 plastic drums (250 liters capacity each) of gasoline and 1,000 boxes (50 reams per box) of cigarettes, all without supporting documents, Tonsay said.
Initial investigation by Navy operatives indicated that undocumented items are owned by at least 10 persons represented by one Jhonson Askali of Brgy. Bunut, Indanan.
It was also learned that the vessel had no Coast Guard Clearance and was sailing without a “master patron,” Tonsay said.
The Wish Me Luck Princess made its last port call in Sitangkay, Tawi-Tawi, and was reportedly heading for Tanjung Pier in Indanan. Its previous port calls overseas have yet to be determined.
The Navy has already turned over the vessel, its crew, and the contraband to the Bureau of Customs in Jolo.
The crew might face charges of violating Republic Act 1937 or the Tariff and Customs Code, Tonsay said. (John Roson)
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