BANTING: A major smuggling hub dealing with clove cigarettes, beer and rice from a neighbouring country was unravelled after a 40km mid-sea pursuit between Customs and Excise Department enforcement officers and the smugglers on Thursday night.
After days of surveillance, the officers trailed two speedboats off the Sepang coast into the narrow Teluk Bunut river channel at 8.45pm.
Upon reaching a watercourse at Teluk Bunut, accomplices of the smugglers including the mastermind were about to load the contraband into three lorries when enforcement officers intercepted their illegal activity.
They fired warning shots, causing the estimated 30 smugglers to run helter-skelter into a nearby oil palm plantation.
Department deputy director-general (prevention) Abd Rahman Abd Hamid said: “My men thwarted their attempt to smuggle 4,550 clove cigarettes consignments with unpaid duties of RM1.3mil.”
Abd Rahman said they had smashed the most organised smuggling syndicate in the country.
He said a payroll list seized during the operation showed that each of the 30 smugglers were paid RM1,300 a day.
He said the department would trace the suspects through the payroll list besides locating the owners of three lorries, two cars and seven motorcycles, which were abandoned there when enforcement officers stormed the site.
Other items confiscated were two boats, engines and walkie-talkies.
Abd Rahman said another group of enforcement officers intercepted a lorry laden with 14,000 cartons of clove cigarettes with an unpaid duty of RM700,000 at Jalan Gambang in Kuantan, yesterday.
In Johor Baru, MAZWIN NIK ANIS reports that the department foiled an attempt on Thursday to smuggle 10,260 bottles of liquor worth RM102,600 by declaring the goods as soya sauce.
State director Sarmin Md Husein said a trailer was stopped at the Tanjung Puteri Customs Complex at the Causeway.
Sarmin said two men, aged 35 and 52, had been arrested and given RM50,000 compound and also ordered to pay the import duty amounting to RM112,121.28.
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