KUALA LUMPUR: The head of an NGO in Sabah has been suspected of leading a drug-smuggling ring.
Bukit Aman narcotics criminal investigation department and Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) yesterday arrested 10 people, including the 40-year-old suspect, who has a “Datuk” title, and seized multiple assets linked to the gang.
Deputy inspector-general of police Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said this was the first time the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 was being used to foil a drug-smuggling ring, instead of the usual trafficking charge under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act.
“We have had laws for the past 40 years, since drugs were announced as the country’s top enemy in 1983, but they are ineffective.
“We made numerous arrests but we have not been able to take action against their leaders because the burden of proof required under Section 39B is high.
“The leaders were not involved directly and their methods kept on changing. So, it was difficult to prove their roles in the organisation,” Ayob said in a media conference.
Therefore, he said, police used Sosma to holistically investigate gangs instead.
The nine other suspects include an enforcement officer, 44, who was suspected of acting as a transporter, and a 45-year-old managing director of a restaurant chain, who is allegedly in charge of the gang’s finances.
The seized assets include a ferry, multiple restaurants, a bungalow, luxury cars, and 12 companies involved in tourism, manufacturing, and oil and gas.
The gang was believed to have been operating for 15 years and smuggled methamphetamine from a neighbouring country.
Ayob said the alleged leader was previously convicted of violating a restriction order under the Dangerous Drugs Act (Special Preventive Measures) 1985.
On a separate issue, Ayob said the police would obtain a remand extension for three of their officers who were suspected of stealing RM85,000 from a business during a raid in the city centre on Dec 21.