GEORGE TOWN: Four men were arrested by police for being involved in smuggling cigarettes worth RM764,000 in Bukit Mertajam on Monday (Sept 26).
Penang police chief Datuk Comm Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain said the suspects were arrested during an operation code-named Ops Kontraban conducted by a team of police from D9 (Special Investigation) and D8 (Special Operation) from state Criminal Investigation Department at 6.30am.
Comm Mohd Shuhaily said police raided two warehouses in Permatang Tinggi industrial park and Bukit Tengah IKS Park in Central Seberang Prai.
"In the first raid police found 174 boxes of illicit cigarettes and in the second raid they found 24 boxes.
"In total, 1,908,000 sticks of illicit cigarettes in 9,900 cartons stashed in the 198 boxes," he said.
During the raid also, police seized four vehicles and a lorry worth RM 236,000 in total.
Comm Mohd Shuhaily said the tax for the illicit cigarettes was valued at RM1,322,640.
"The suspects, aged 40-55 years old, were detained under Section 116C of Customs Act 1967 and have been remanded for 14 days beginning Sept 27," he said in a press conference at state police headquarters.
Comm Mohd Shuhaily said the suspects, who worked as a warehouse guard and lorry driver, had been responsible for distributing the illicit cigarettes to premises in Seberang Prai.
He said police believed the syndicate had been getting their supply from Lembah Kelang and bringing them by lorry to warehouses in Penang before being distributed on.
He said the case was being investigated under Section 135 (1) of the Customs Act 1967.
The offence is punishable with a fine of not less than 10 times the value of the seized items or RM100,000, or whichever amount is higher, and not more than 20 times the seized value or RM500,000, or whichever amount is higher, or six month to five years imprisonment, or both upon conviction.
Comm Mohd Shuhaily said since January until September this year police had conducted a total of 61 raids and 75 people had been arrested for being involved in contraband cigarette syndicates with total seizure of more than RM3mil of the illicit material.
In a separate matter, Comm Mohd Shuhaily said that up until September of 2022, police had received a total of 282 police reports for robberies in Penang.
He said from the total, 82 were false reports involving local and foreign citizens aged between 20 and 60.
He said 52 of the false reports were lost for identity cards, money abuse (10), insurance claims (5), family disputes (5), lost of passport/UNHCR cards (4), debt avoidance (3), and jealousy (1), slander (1)and truancy from workplace (1).
He said the false report cases would be investigated under Section 182 of the Penal Code For lodging a false police report.