Customs seize smuggled cigarettes worth RM23 mil in Port Klang

Customs deputy director-general (Enforcement and Compliance) Johari Alifiah says the operation was carried out as a result of intelligence gathered over several weeks. (Facebook pic)

BUTTERWORTH: The Royal Malaysian Customs Department (JKDM) busted a cigarette smuggling syndicate after seizing three containers and 31 million sticks of white cigarettes worth RM23.2 million, including unpaid tax, in two separate raids in Port Klang last Friday.

Customs deputy director-general (Enforcement and Compliance), Johari Alifiah said the operation was carried out as a result of intelligence conducted by the Internal Investigation Unit together with the Operations Unit of the Penang JKDM Enforcement Division over the past few weeks before raiding North and West Ports, Port Klang, at 10am.

“During the inspection at the two locations, we also detained a local man in his 40s, who is a representative of a shipping company to assist in the investigation.

“The man arrested was also a Customs agent who was given a certificate to handle cargo clearance,” he told a press conference  here today.

Also present were JKDM assistant director-general Iskandar Jaafar and Penang JKDM director Abdul Halim Ramli.

Commenting further, Johari said in the raid on the North Port, they detained a 12-metre container containing 10.3 million sticks of contraband cigarettes worth RM828,800 with unpaid duty of about RM6.9 million.

Johari said in the raid at West Port, a total of 20.7 million sticks of cigarettes in two containers of the same size were seized by the team with a value of RM1.65 million with unpaid duty of about RM13.8 million.

He said based on the documents obtained as well as investigation, it was found that all cigarettes smuggled into Malaysia were brought in from a country in East Asia for the market in this country.

“Investigations have found that the modus operandi used by this smuggling syndicate is to declare merchandise as industrial pumps and porcelain hardware in receipts, including import certificates.

“They were in fact carrying smuggled cigarettes with duties unpaid and they were sold at between RM7.50 and RM9 per packet in our market,” he said, adding that the case was being investigated under Section 135 (1) (g) of the Customs Act 1967 and Section 74 (1). (e) Excise Act 1976.

Asked if he would make other arrests after this, he said his department was completing the investigation and did not rule out the possibility that several other individuals would be arrested, apart from identifying the mastermind behind the white cigarette smuggling activities.

“I am seeking the cooperation of the public in helping the Customs fight against smuggling, especially cigarettes, liquor, firecrackers, drugs, vehicles and other goods because smuggling is not only detrimental to the country in terms of loss of revenue, but also poses a threat to national security and the people’s well-being,” he said.