Six suspects have been arrested in Nelson Mandela Bay following a bust in which nearly 2 000 boxes of cigarettes with an estimated street value of R18-million were confiscated.
Police also confiscated R2.3-million in cash along with the 1 750 boxes of cigarettes.
The arrests formed part of Operation Peregrenus, a “concerted effort to fight proliferation of illicit cigarettes trade” in the Eastern Cape.
Police said in a statement the six – between the ages of 29 and 40 – were arrested on Tuesday.
Two of the suspects were arrested in Port Elizabeth and the other four in Uitenhage.
They are expected to appear in the Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage magistrate’s courts on charges of fraud, Contravention of the Tobacco Products Control Act, Contravention of the Value Added Tax Act and Contravention of the Customs and Exercise Act.
Eastern Cape provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga welcomed the arrest.
“This is the biggest single bust on illicit cigarettes in the province and has dealt a stinging blow to the traders,” she said.
“We will continue with these sting operations to ensure that we rid our province of illicit cigarette trading.”