On May 19, 2020, Customs Officers seized approximately 848 cartons of assorted Chinese cigarettes hidden in several mattresses. The items were concealed in an attempt to avoid customs tax.

Each mattress had about 100 plus cartons of cigarettes concealed inside the wooden / plywood crates that were hidden inside the mattresses. Each of the mattresses had 3 hollow compartments in which the center was filled with cigarettes. The mattresses were declared as personal items by the importer and such items arrived by ship from China. The 848 cartons have a duty of $42,400 and if sold on the market, it would fetch about twice the value at retail price.

Based on the Customs Officer inspecting the mattresses, the Officer noticed that they were a bit heavy to carry and hard. Each of the wooden crates, when opened, had drywall screws that sealed the plywood together when opening them.

The smuggled cigarettes have been confiscated for evidence and the investigation is currently pending. This seizure is one of the largest seizure that Palau Customs have had for smuggled goods. Other attempts by importers in the past that have tried to conceal and smuggle cigarettes into Palau have been penalized under the law. “I am extremely proud of the work my officers do and I hope this demonstrates each and every day our commitment to our work,” expressed Director John Tarkong Jr. of the Division of Customs & Border Control.