Customs officials from the South African Revenue Service (Sars), the SA Police Service (SAPS) and other law enforcement agencies seized illegal cigarettes and drugs worth about R3.1 million in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
The raid took place on Thursday at three homes of a well-known cigarette supplier in Phoenix.
Sars said a total of 2.31 million cigarettes were seized during the search.
“The cigarettes were sold for such a low value that it was clear that no excise duties were paid. A full audit of the goods will now be conducted. Narcotics were also found at two of the sites, including Mandrax and Cannabis with a street value of approximately R10 000. The drugs have been turned over to SAPS for further investigation.”
Sars said the bust is part of an ongoing operation to crack down on illegal cigarette distributors in the KZN region.
The tax authorities said the focus of the operation is to ensure that all cigarettes sold in South Africa are compliant and that the correct taxes have been paid.
“Sars has taken a determined approach to eradicate the illicit tobacco industry in the country and will continue to carry out customs and tax checks on all non-compliant merchants and taxpayers.”
Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said the tax authorities are committed to trade facilitation and growth of the country’s economy.
“It will continue to make it easy and seamless for traders to comply with their legal obligation by providing them with clarity and certainty. Likewise, Sars is building its ability to make it difficult and costly for traders who choose to be non-compliant.”
Kieswetter has warned that it will leave no stone unturned to ensure that those involved in criminal behavior are dealt with harshly.