JOHOR BARU: Hiding illegal cigarettes in a prayer room. That’s how low smugglers have gone just so they can hide their stash from being sniffed out by enforcement agencies.
This tactic was discovered during a raid conducted by the marine police at three stalls located at Jalan Masjid, Kampung Melayu Majidee here at 3.15pm on Wednesday (June 19).
The raid started at a small grocery stall that was guarded by a 39-year-old male worker.
Based on the inspection, the legal cigarettes were displayed at the counter while the illegal ones were hidden inside the cashier's drawer.
Stocks of illegal cigarettes stored inside a black plastic bag placed behind the stalls were also discovered.
While conducting their search, a police officer accidentally found a small hole that connected to the stall next door, revealing a larger amount of illegal cigarettes stored inside a dark room.
The police then rushed to the bundle shop next door, where they found the remaining cigarettes stored inside a small room that had a ‘prayer room’ sign.
The bundle shop was guarded by two male workers, aged 23 and 33-years-old.
The raid team continued their inspection behind the premises, where they spotted a suspicious laundry shop.
Investigations inside then revealed boxes of fireworks stored behind the stalls.
Meanwhile, Marine Police Region 2 Commander Asst Comm Paul Khiu Khon Chiang said that based on the interrogations, the workers revealed that the bundle stall had been used as a supply store for the grocery stall.
“If they ran out of stock, they would just use the hole to transfer the cigarettes that connected both stalls.
“This smuggler is a bit crafty in their ways, but we still managed to reveal their modus operandi,” he said.
ACP Khiu added that the illegal cigarettes are estimated to be worth RM15,000 while the fireworks are worth about RM1,300.
All three workers had been arrested to help investigations of the case. The case is investigated under Section 135(1)(d) of the Customs Act 1967 for importing goods without following legal procedures.