KOTA BARU: The Kelantan Customs Department has foiled two attempts to smuggle cigarettes into Kelantan and seized contraband worth about RM1.38mil.
Kelantan Customs director Datuk Mohd Nasir Yusoff said they confiscated 13,810 cartons of cigarettes in two operations carried out on Jan 8 and early Saturday (Jan 13).
In the special operation under the National Blue Ocean Strategy involving Customs, the Border Control Agency and the police, authorities nabbed a 47-year-old driver of a lorry laden with 5,400 cartons of cigarettes at Jalan Kota Bharu-Kuala Terengganu near Setiu, Terengganu at 3.40am Saturday.
"We found cigarettes worth RM572,400 hidden behind heaps of polystyrene material," he told a press conference Sunday.
Authorities believe the cigarettes were smuggled from Kuala Lumpur via Terengganu.
The lorry driver was detained under Section 135(1)(e) of Customs Act 1967, and released on RM30,000 bail.
The suspect had claimed that he was merely paid to deliver the goods, and that it was his first trip to Kelantan," he said.
He said acting on a tip-off, the enforcement team had trailed the lorry for 20km from the East Coat Highway 2 and intercepted the vehicle in Setiu.
In another operations on Jan 8, authorities found 8,410 cartons of cigarettes worth RM807,681.84 hidden behind old tyres and boxes containing disposable cups inside a lorry in Gua Musang.
"The driver and his assistant escaped," he said, adding the goods are believed to have come from Kuala Lumpur.