VILLASIS, Pangasinan – Authorities arrested 24 Chinese who were found during a raid of four factories allegedly manufacturing fake cigarettes in Barangay Unzad here Friday.
The raid stemmed from information that the four factories, hidden from view by mango plantations and fenced by a high concrete wall, are manufacturing fake cigarettes.
The Bureaus of Customs, Internal Revenue, and Immigration, accompanied by the Pangasinan and local police, the Army’s 702nd Battalion, and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, obtained search warrants and raided the factories.
Twenty-four Chinese who were among the 50 reportedly alternating in shifts in supervising the factories were arrested.
Also arrested were some 50 stay-in workers, all from Bolinao, Pangasinan. Barangay officials confirmed that they were not residents.
Authorities said fake cigarettes stuffed in packs of Marlboro, Fortune, More, Jackpot, Mighty, and Winston, among others, as well as equipment and raw materials for manufacturing them, were seized in the raid. All these were believed to have originated from China.
No illegal drug or drug laboratory was found in factories.
The 24 Chinese who do not speak English were taken to the BI regional office in La Union for investigation and may be required to produce travel documents.
Antero Prado Jr., BoC special assistant, considered the discovery as beyond imagination because the equipment that manufacture the fake cigarettes cost billions of pesos.
The factory has neither a business permit from the local government nor a clearance from the barangay where it is located. (Liezle Basa Iñigo)