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Sunday, 28 July 2013

Slipping through the Net

PETALING JAYA: With online shopping becoming popular, more drugs, weapons and other illegal items are finding their way into the country.

The Customs Department, working with postal authorities, has foiled several smuggling cases whereby drugs were found hidden in laptop batteries, notebook covers, electronic components and other consumer goods.

In the latest haul this month, Customs officers found 6.9kg of ketamin “embroidered” into 34 sarees, said the department’s director- general Datuk Seri Khazali Ahmad.

“The goods were delivered to a mail courier centre in Kuala Lumpur from India with fictitious addresses given for both the sender and recipient,” he said.

Khazali said there had also been online attempts to smuggle in real and fake weapons while declaring them as “general goods” such as toys or machines.

He cited the case of a 15-year-old student in Ipoh who was detained by Customs last month after he was found to have ordered five air rifles and brass pellets online from a foreign country without an import permit.

It was the sixth case in Ipoh alone since January where weapons or fake weapons were ordered online and falsely declared as toys, dog training tools or spare parts.

“Toy guns can be used to commit crimes – some look and feel very real. And their pellets, used at close range, can even kill,” Khazali told The Star. “That’s why we have to be strict.”

Airsoft electric guns are fast gaining popularity in Malaysia, especially among those who enjoy tactical wargames.

The new generation BB (bird bullet) guns are a type of air-powered gun designed to shoot projectiles, and this, too, can be easily bought online.

They are sold together with other military-like gear and tactical equipment and holsters.

Khazali said the modus operandi of those trying to import weapons, real or otherwise, was to either declare the items as “general goods” or by dismantling them. The parts will arrive in two or three shipments.

He reminded the public that weapons like daggers, samurai swords and flick knives that are openly sold in neighbouring countries were prohibited in Malaysia.

Khazali also said his department was working closely with the Health Ministry to curb the sale of illegal pharmaceuticals online.

“Many countries are conducting similar crackdowns because imitation pharmaceutical drugs, which are harmful to the body, are a big problem globally,” he added.

Illegal drugs and sex stimulants now top the list of most smuggled items into the country.

According to statistics of the Narcotics Crime Investigation Department, the drugs seized in the first half of this year amounted to RM48.11mil or almost double the haul for the corresponding period last year.

Related story:

Shop online but dont break the law

Tags / Keywords: Courts Crime , creative criminals , drug trafficking


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