The Maldives Customs Service has seized 1.7 million cigarettes concealed within 173 cartons in an anti-smuggling operation. The cigarettes were confiscated after weeks of investigation, media reports, and social media speculations.

The shipment’s market value is MVR 1.6 million and carries an import duty of MVR 5.6 million, according to the Customs.

The operation faced delays due to an extensive investigation into the shipment’s origin and the individuals responsible for its illegal importation, the agency said. While the exact number of arrests remains unclear, the authorities executed court-warranted searches at five locations in Hulhumalé, leading to the confiscation of the contraband.

This seizure follows a previous incident where customs intercepted 200 master cartons—equivalent to over 3.1 million cigarettes—misdeclared as tissue paper.