Six people were arrested for illicit tobacco trade and cigarettes with an estimated street value of R18 million were confiscated in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, Eastern Cape police said on Wednesday. Picture: Supplied/ SAPS Eastern Cape

Johannesburg - Six people were arrested for illicit tobacco trade and cigarettes with an estimated street value of R18 million were confiscated in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, Eastern Cape police said on Wednesday.

"ln a concerted effort to fight proliferation of illicit cigarettes trade in the province, the intelligent-led joint operations composed of various police units yielded positive results when six suspects, aged between 29 and 40 years, were arrested [on Tuesday]. A large undisclosed amount of cash (R2.3 million) and 1 750 boxes of cigarettes with an estimated street value of R18 000 000 were confiscated," police said.

Police said the operation, dubbed ‘Operation Peregrenus’ was conducted in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage. 

Two people were arrested during the Port Elizabeth operation and are expected to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court. Four other people were arrested in Uitenhage and are expected to appear in the Uitenhage Magistrate's Court soon. 

"All the suspects will face charges of fraud, Contravention of the Tobacco Products Control Act, Contravention of the Value Added Tax Act and Contravention of the Customs and Exercise Act."

Eastern Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lt-Gen Liziwe Ntshinga welcomed the arrest.

“This is the biggest single bust on illicit cigarettes in the province and has dealt a stinging blow to the traders. We will continue with these sting operations to ensure that we rid our province of illicit cigarette trading,” she said.