A man has been arraigned in Court and Police are searching for an accomplice in the case of a consignment of smuggled contraband cigarettes amounting to 1.5 million cigarettes. James Azzopardi, who is 29-years-old and is from St Paul’s Bay was accused among other things of evading Customs Duties of a quarter of a million euros, Excise Dues and VAT. Azzopardi denied the accusations and was granted bail against a deposit of €3,000 and a personal guarantee of €5,000.
The case developed early last Thursday morning in the Veċċja area of St Paul’s Bay when Police intercepted Azzopardi who was unloading a considerable amount of cigarettes off a vessel and loading them into a van. He had already unloaded over one million cigarettes – that is 40,000 packets. Although Azzopardi was arrested on the spot, the powerboat escaped and sped out of the area.
The boat, registered in Azzopardi’s name, was found tied to a buoy in Xemxija Bay yesterday evening still loaded with consignments of cigarettes estimated to amount to a further 28,000 packets. The boat is now in the hands of Customs after it was escorted by an AFM patrol boat to Ras Ħanżir. Police are still searching for the man who powered the boat.
Customs said the consignment of unloaded cigarettes has a market value of €81,500.
Tinstab abbandunata fix-Xemija l-powerboat li ħarbet b’sigaretti tal-kutrabandu