Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has announced that in 2017, its officers arrested 1,176 immigration offenders (IOs) and 300 harbourers and employers of IOs. 90,327 contraband cases were detected at the checkpoints and 53 persons were convicted for marriage of convenience offences.
In its report, ICA stated that he total number of immigration offenders (IOs) arrested last year decreased by 8.0 percent to 1,176 in 2017, from 1,278 in 2016. Of these, the number of illegal immigrants arrested dropped by 14.3% to 186 in 2017, from 217 in 2016. The number of overstayers arrested decreased by 6.7% to 990 in 2017, from 1,061 in 2016.
The authority recalled one outstanding incident where in a joint operation with SPF and Singapore Customs at Yew Tee Industrial Estate on 4 May 2017, 12 Indonesian men, aged between 18 and 41, were arrested for immigration offences and peddling of duty-unpaid cigarettes.
According to the report, the total number of harbourers and employers of IOs arrested in 2017 decreased by 14.5 percent to 300 in 2017, from 351 in 2016. The number of harbourers arrested declined by 17.6 percent to 252 in 2017, from 306 in 2016. The number of employers arrested increased slightly by 6.7 percent to 48 in 2017, from 45 in 2016.
Meanwhile, the authority stated that the number of contraband smuggling cases detected at the checkpoints increased slightly by 2.6 percent to 90,327 in 2017, from 88,050 in 2016. Despite stringent checks, an average of 247 cases of smuggling attempts continue to be detected at our checkpoints daily.
One cases that went into spotlight was on 13 October 2017, where ICA officers at Tuas Checkpoint found 2,190 cartons and 202 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes concealed in a modified compartment in the fuel bowser towed by a prime mover.
Another case happened on 2 June 2017, where ICA officers at Woodlands Checkpoint found 9,000 cartons of duty-unpaid cigarettes concealed in a consignment declared as assorted bread in a Malaysia-registered truck.
The authority also noted the increase of persons who were convicted for marriage of convenience (MOC)-related offences in 2017. 53 persons were convicted, which was an increase of 23.3 percent compared to 2016, where 43 persons were convicted.
ICA investigators initially investigated a case of a suspected MOC between a Singaporean man and his Vietnamese ‘wife’. Through investigations, the officers uncovered five other couples who had engaged in MOC. These couples all involved Singaporean men and Vietnamese women. The men, aged between 24 and 57, entered into sham marriages for monetary rewards. The women, aged between 23 and 34, engaged in MOCs with these men to prolong their stay in Singapore.
Ten of them have been dealt with and sentenced to jail terms ranging from six to 18 months. The Court proceedings for the remaining two persons are ongoing.
Commissioner of ICA, Mr Clarence Yeo, said, "Our borders are our first line of defence in safeguarding Singapore's safety and security. ICA will remain vigilant and work closely with other enforcement agencies as well as leverage science and technology to enhance our checkpoints operations."
"With the Lunar New Year approaching, we expect an increase in the number of travellers and goods passing through our checkpoints. Despite stringent checks, smuggling attempts have not abated. As such, we urge the community to be alert and collaborate with us to keep Singapore and secure," he added.