Officers from Police, Customs and Excise and representatives of Solomon Tobacco yesterday destroyed over one million fake cigarettes.

A total of 154 boxes, each containing 30 sleeves of fake Winfield cigarettes, were burned at Ngalibiu area at CDC-1 early yesterday morning.

Detectives from the Serious Crime Squad began an investigation into the fake cigarettes in 2006 after members of the public in East Guadalcanal reported to police that the cigarettes they were buying tasted different.

The extensive investigation led police to a local business man.

Police used experts from Solomon Islands Tobacco to confirm the cigarettes were not authentic and then alerted officers from Customs and Excise because it was believed a large number of the fake cigarettes had been imported without duty being paid.

Customs and Excise made enquiries and established that the duty had not been paid.

A man aged in his thirties was charged in October 2006 under Section 213(c) of the Customs and Excise Act for knowingly keeping uncustomed goods.

On August 20 2008, the man was found guilty and the Magistrates Court ordered he pay the SBD$699,362.40 that was owed for importing the cigarettes.

Director of Police Prosecutions, Inspector Mathew Taro, said that this was the biggest prosecution case involving fake cigarettes to his knowledge in the Solomon Islands. He thanked other law enforcement agencies for their assistance.

"This was a case that involved the Solomon Islands Police Force, Customs and Exercise and experts from Solomon Tobacco. All three organisations acted professionally and as a result the man responsible was found guilty.

"The destruction of the fake cigarettes today marks the end a very complicated but successful investigation," he said.

Source: Police Media Unit