‘Fake’ cigarettes maker busted

LUBAO, Pampanga—Acting Gov. Dennis Pineda has issued a public warning to foreigners involved in illicit activities to leave Pampanga province as village folk show vigilance in curbing criminality.

Pineda aired the warning on local news channels as residents of Barangay San Isidro in Lubao helped bust on late Thursday afternoon a factory suspected of manufacturing counterfeit cigarette brands such as Marlboro, Camel, Fortune, Mighty, More and Marvel.

“Criminal elements should better leave Pampanga now because our constituents are more aggressive in reporting any thing that they sensed to be suspicious,” Pineda told reporters at site.

Barangay Captain Lito Manalansan said his constituents reported about the lingering smell of tobacco at night. They also noticed that workers come to work only at night.

Manalansan said a Chinese national named Mark Bryan Chan bought the land last February and built a warehouse last September using local construction workers. On October 29, village officials checked the site and found a single corn crusher. Chan, he said, applied to operate a feed mill, n information Lubao Mayor Mylyn Cayabyab confirmed.

Pineda said Chan must have been operating for less than a month until village folks reported the suspicious activities there.

Chan or any of his workers were not found at the factory during the search led by sanitary inspectors.

Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino, Central Luzon police director, said the materials and equipment found inside the factory indicated that the facility was engaged in the full production of cigarettes including packaging. Big boxes of dried tobacco leaves had markings showing these to be imported.

Aquino said Chan and his cohorts may be sued for violating intellectual property rights and taxation laws. Boxes of apparently fake tax seals were seen in the factory.

Representatives of cigarette makers were called to the site to verify if the facility were theirs or not or if Chan was their sub-contractor or not.

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