MERSING: Police have crippled a cigarette smuggling syndicate that used a modified tourist boat to move its product, and seized contraband items worth RM7.6mil.
Johor police chief Comm Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said acting on information, a police team including members of the Region II marine police raided a jetty in Endau here between 6.30pm and 10pm on Friday (June 11).
“We arrested three men aged between 27 and 51. One of them has a criminal record.
“A total of 903 illicit cigarette packs were seized along with two lorries, a boat, two radar units and a GPS.
“The contraband cigarettes are worth RM7.6mil while the whole seizure is valued at RM9.3mil,” he told a press conference at the marine police operations force headquarters here on Monday (June 14).
Comm Ayob Khan said one of the men owned the boat, which had been modified to ferry the contraband items.
“He used to bring tourists to diving spots around Mersing but due to the lack of tourists because of the movement control order, he smuggled cigarettes and had been doing that for more than a year.
“Their modus operandi is to wait for a large vessel in Johor waters from where they would transfer the cigarettes onto the smaller boat to be brought to the mainland.
“Once the boat reached the jetty, they would load the cigarettes onto the lorries which had also been modified to avoid detection by authorities at roadblocks,” he said.
Comm Ayob Khan added that the cigarettes were sent to several locations around Mersing and east coast areas in Pahang.
“We have reason to believe that the three are part of a bigger smuggling syndicate,” he said, adding that the men had been remanded until Wednesday (June 16) to assist with investigations.
The case is being investigated under Section 135(1)(D) of the Customs Act 1967.