SIBU: The Customs Department here thwarted an attempt to smuggle two containers of contraband liquor worth over RM700,000 into the state.
Three local men, comprising the lorry driver and two assistants, were also arrested.
Sarawak Customs chief Datuk Sharifah Halimah Tuanku Taha believed that the contraband was meant to be sold ahead of the Gawai celebrations.
She said based on a public tip-off, its Sibu enforcement team with assistance from its Sarikei counterpart started tailing a lorry trailer hauling two containers at about 8.15am on Friday (May 22).
The lorry was headed to Kuching.
The modus operandi, she revealed, was to use land transport to send large quantities of contraband posed as ordinary goods to avoid detection.
She said the trailer was stopped somewhere between Sarikei and Saratok.
An inspection of the containers found that they were fully loaded with liquor which had not been approved by the department," she added.
Further investigation, she said, revealed that there were 26,409 litres of hard liquor worth RM274,042.20 and RM434,699.41 of unpaid tax.
The items, she said, were taken to its Sibu department for investigation under Section 135(1)(d) of the Custom Act 1967.
The lorry, worth about RM150,000 was also seized.
The offence provides for a fine of at least 10 times the customs duty or RM100,000, whichever is higher, and not more than 20 times the custom duties or RM500,000, whichever is higher, or a jail sentence of at least six months and not more than five years.
She called on members of the public to cooperate by providing information on any smuggling activity in the state.
The public can do so via its toll-free number at 1-800 88 8855, its website at aduan.customs.gov.my or at any of its offices in the state.