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Report: North ships caught with fake cigarettes

May 15,2006
TOKYO ― During the last two years, Japanese maritime police officers have frequently caught foreign ships leaving North Korean ports trying to smuggle fake cigarettes, the Japanese newspaper Tokyo Shimbun reported.
Citing intelligence data from satellites, the newspaper said that the fake cigarettes were at times transferred onto other ships waiting in the South Korean port of Busan or near Taiwanese waters. The foreign ships were from Cambodia, Mongolia and Taiwan.
The top cigarette brand forged by North Korea was the American Marlboro. Japanese brands, such as Mild Seven and Seven Star, as well as British tobacco brands were also included in the list.
The Japanese newspaper said in its report over the weekend that North Korean manufactured cigarettes use high-quality wrapping paper, while the tobacco leaves used in the forged cigarettes are inferior to the genuine products.
Japanese authorities did not confiscate the goods because they were not intended to be smuggled into Japan. Nevertheless, authorities have notified foreign intelligence organizations. The Japanese Maritime Police is conducting security checks on all ships that pass through Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Experts say a crackdown on forged cigarettes in China has led to an influx of machinery used for making those cigarettes into the North, which has started to manufacture them on a mass scale. Increased production of fake cigarettes by the North is said to make up for decreased profits from drug trafficking due to a crackdown by governments. Washington recently reported that the North earns more money selling fake cigarettes than it does on any of its illicit activities.


by Yeh Young-june


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