17 arrested after 20,000+ sachets of chewing tobacco seized in Little India, Jurong

Photos of chewing tobacco sachets seized by Singapore authorities. (Photos: Health Sciences Authority)
Photos of chewing tobacco sachets seized by Singapore authorities. (Photos: Health Sciences Authority)

Seventeen people were arrested for allegedly peddling and possessing chewing tobacco after authorities seized 21,036 sachets of the banned substance on Sunday and Monday at various sites in Singapore, including at a temple in Little India.

Not far from that temple — where the sachets were found inside of a backpack — more sachets were found hidden under a metal plate at a nearby pavement, while the rest were discovered at a storage facility in Jurong, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said today, noting a total street value of approximately S$42,000 (US$30,000). Officials did not specify which temple the sachets were found at.

Chewing tobacco found in a backpack on a shoe rack at a Little India temple. (Photos: Health Sciences Authority)
Chewing tobacco found in a backpack on a shoe rack at a Little India temple. Photos: Health Sciences Authority

Two of the individuals arrested were in the country on social visit passes, which means that they are not legally allowed to work in Singapore — and according to the authorities, the two have been repatriated following the incident. It has not been publicized which country they came from.

The banned chewing tobacco in question is known as Khaini, which is made from sun-dried or fermented tobacco leaves, based on information by the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the US.

The leaves are crushed and combined with spices like cloves, and a pinch of slaked lime paste, before being packaged and sold for consumption.

Chewing tobacco is a known health hazard, with researchers linking it to the prevalence of head, neck and oral cancers in South Asia.

Chewing tobacco found at Jurong storage facility. (Photo: Health Sciences Authority)
Chewing tobacco found at Jurong storage facility. Photo: Health Sciences Authority

According to Singapore law, those found guilty of importing, distributing, selling or offering to sell chewing tobacco in the country can get fined up to S$10,000, jailed for up to six months, or both, on the first offense. The penalties double on subsequent offenses.

Meanwhile, those who buy, use or possess chewing tobacco could get fined up to S$2,000.

Chew on that, friends.

via GIPHY

Related stories:

Malaysian man arrested after trying to smuggle 12,000+ cigarette cartons inside concrete blocks

Man fined S$10.4m, jailed after fourth run-in with the law over duty-unpaid cigarettes


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