GEORGE TOWN: Police today confirmed the seizure of 12 tonnes of cocaine worth RM2.4 billion, disguised as coal at Butterworth Port last week.
This makes it the largest cocaine haul in the country’s history.
Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador said the cocaine was found in 60 sacks mixed with coal in three containers.
He said the drugs were mixed with coal so well that it was almost impossible to detect it even by highly-trained sniffer dogs.
In a press conference here today, Hamid said police were only able to detect the drugs and separate them from the coal using the latest “expensive” equipment from the Chemistry Department.
He said a 29-year-old man, believed to be in charge of logistics for the drug syndicate, had been remanded for 14 days until Sept 23.
“Malaysia has never been a traditional market for cocaine. It is therefore troubling to see this much cocaine entering our country,” he added.
He said each sack weighed a tonne and there were 60 sacks in the three containers.
Hamid said the three containers are believed to be from a Latin American country and had been brought to Butterworth to be distributed in the Asian region.
He said in this major operation by Bukit Aman, teams from the narcotics division descended on Butterworth, Bayan Baru and Padang Serai in Kedah on Sept 10.
Hamid said the cocaine was declared as coal at the port.
He said the local syndicate here would separate the cocaine from the coal and later distribute it regionally.
“This is very, very worrying. This cocaine seizure beats the Shah Alam cocaine bust of three tonnes not too long ago.
“We wonder if such coal, mixed with cocaine, is landing in other ports in the country.
“We are waiting anxiously for our prime minister’s anti-drug policy launch this Oct 15 to stem this scourge,” he said.
Hamid thanked the Chemistry Department for their latest equipment, which he credited for the police success, saying the department took three days to do the analysis.
At the same press conference, Chemistry Department director-general Mohamed Zaini Abdul Rahman thanked the economic affairs ministry for funding the purchase of the equipment to detect the cocaine in mixed substances.
He said there are only five such devices in the country, one owned by his department and four others owned by the private sector. He refused to state the cost.
“I can’t tell you what it is, but we are confident we will have enough proof to convict the traffickers in court,” he said.
Hamid said from Jan 1 to Sept 12, police had recorded 110,328 drug-related cases, involving 130,928 persons. Of this number, 9,087 people were foreigners.
He said there had been 19,568 arrests for trafficking, 48,469 arrests for possession and 62,891 arrests for drug use.
The breakdown of drug seizures are as follows: syabu (4,468kg); cannabis (607kg); ecstasy pills (587kg); heroin (504kg); ketamine (198kg); Yaba pills (134kg); ketum leaves (105kg); syabu liquid (277 litres); codeine fluid (7,507 litres); ketum water (50,776 litres); drug-related fluids (12 litres) and 34 cannabis trees.
Hamid said police had seized RM57.1 million worth of drug-related properties. Properties worth RM1.96 million had already been forfeited.
Thirteen drug labs have been uncovered. The value of drugs seized, not taking into account this recent cocaine bust, amount to RM285.9 million as of Sept 12.