JOHOR BARU: Thirty-three heavy vehicles, mostly for use at construction sites, were seized by marine police from a barge in Tanjung Piai waters, near Pontian on Monday.
A captain and seven crew members of a tugboat which was pulling the craft were detained at about 4am after it was spotted by a patrol team in a special operation in the area, some 1.8 nautical miles from Tanjung Piai.
Southern region marine police acting chief Deputy Supt Mohd Norshah Mohd Idris said his men decided to check the barge after noticing it move in a suspicious manner.
“According to my men, the tugboat was having difficulty pulling the barge, which could mean that it was loaded with extremely heavy stuff.
“The captain claimed they were heading towards Sibu from Port Klang,” he said.
The vehicles included 15 lorries as well as bulldozers, concrete mixers, garbage trucks and a crane.
DSP Mohd Norshah said they were seized after the captain of the Indonesian-registered tugboat could not produce any documents for the vehicles.
“The captain had also violated the Merchant Shipping Ordinance by failing to produce the cargo manifest and port clearance form,” he said yesterday.
DSP Mohd Norshah said the captain and his seven crewmen – all Indonesians aged between 20 and 45 – were detained for further questioning.
He refused to say whether the vehicles were being smuggled out.
He said the vehicles would be handed over to the Customs Department.