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Three Things to Know About Immigration-related Crimes in 2017
An overview of key immigration-related enforcement numbers for the past year.

Tough laws, stringent security checks at our checkpoints and regular enforcement operations have allowed theImmigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to ensure that immigration-related offences remain low. Here are three things you should know about our immigration-related statistics for 2017.

2017 Report ICA 02
An inter-agency crackdown on immigrant offenders at Yew Tee Industrial Estate in May 2017. PHOTO: ICA

1. A decline in the number of immigration offenders and those who harbour and employ them

ICA’s multi-pronged approach to “Deter, Deny and Detect” immigration offenders has been effective in reducing the number of immigration offenders from 1,278 in 2016 to 1,176 in 2017. Of these, the number of illegal immigrants arrested dropped from 217 in 2016 to 186 in 2017.

Crucial to this effort has been the ICA’s close collaboration with other agencies such as the Singapore Police Force (SPF), Singapore Customs and the Ministry of Manpower. In a joint operation with SPF and Singapore Customs at Yew Tee Industrial Estate in May 2017, 12 Indonesian men were arrested for immigration offences and peddling of duty-unpaid cigarettes.

ICA has also continued to take a tough stance against harbourers and employers of immigration offenders. The total number of these who were arrested last year fell from 351 in 2016 to 300 in 2017. The number of harbourers arrested also fell from 306 in 2016 to 252 in 2017.

2017 Report ICA 03
Duty-unpaid cigarettes found in the modified compartment at the base of a fuel bowser, from October 2017. PHOTO: ICA


2. More contraband smuggling cases detected at our checkpoints

Did you know that an average of 247 attempted cases of smuggling are detected at our checkpoints daily? Due to stringent checks, the number of contraband smuggling cases detected at our checkpoints increased from 88,050 in 2016 to 90,327 in 2017.

A trend of concern was the use of heavy commercial vehicles to smuggle contraband. In one case from October 2017, ICA officers at Tuas Checkpoint detected 2,190 cartons and 202 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes concealed in a modified compartment in the fuel bowser towed by a prime mover.

3. An increase in the number of sham marriages

In 2017, 53 persons were convicted for marriage-of-convenience-related offences. This was an increase from the 43 persons convicted in 2016.

One particular case took about six months of dogged investigations to crack. In mid-2017, ICA officers investigated a case of a suspected marriage of convenience between a Singaporean man and his Vietnamese “wife”. The officers were able to uncover five other couples, all involving Singaporean men and Vietnamese women, who had engaged in this practice. A total of 12 persons were arrested, with 10 having been sentenced to jail terms ranging from six to 18 months.

For more on the ICA’s Annual Statistics 2017, visit this page.
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.


  1. by Mike Tan
  2. 14 February 2018
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