JOHOR BARU: Local fishermen and villagers in Johor are believed to be colluding with syndicates involving in smuggling and human trafficking.
Bukit Aman deputy director Crime Prevention and Community Safety Department (Operations) Comm Datuk Zainal Abidin Kasim said that they have been rewarded by syndicates for their "cooperation".
"The syndicates will give money to these fishermen and villagers as a token of appreciation," he said at the Marine Police Southern Region 2 headquarters here.
"Our fishermen and villagers are actually aware of the activities of these syndicates.
"But they choose to remain quiet and not pass the information to the relevant agencies," he said.
Comm Zainal said this at a press conference to highlight that 117,320 boxes of contraband cigarettes worth about RM1.4mil had been confiscated from a double-storey terrace house in Taman Indahpura, Kulai, near here.
The cigarettes were seized on Nov 21 at about 8am. Two local men aged 26 and 29, were detained in Ops Landai Khas.
Police also seized RM18,465 cash from one of the suspects and seized a Toyota Hilux 4WD and Perodua Alza, which were used to transport the contraband cigarettes.
Comm Zainal said the lack of information from fishermen and villagers was one of the main reasons why the police were having tough times to fight smuggling along Johor's coastal areas.
He added another factor was the long shoreline in Johor, stretching more than 600km.
"The smuggling syndicates are also becoming more sophisticated with state-of-the art speed boats and use of technology," said Comm Zainal.
He said instead of going after them in the waters off Johor, in the Straits of Melaka or the South China Sea, police would wait on land to nab these syndicates.