KOTA TINGGI: An intercepted Tanzanian-registered vessel leaving Sungai Lebam near here was caught smuggling out more than RM3.6mil worth of subsidised diesel by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
Johor MMEA director First Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria said agency personnel were carrying out patrolling activities along Sungai Lebam waters when they spotted a vessel heading towards open waters at 10.05pm on Monday.
“Checks raised suspicion that it had just carried out a diesel transfer.
“The vessel, which had eight Indonesian crewmen, failed to show any documents about loading diesel believed to have been transferred from a tanker at a nearby location.
“We detained the vessel at around 11.45pm and brought it to the Pengerang maritime jetty for further investigations,” he said yesterday.
Nurul Hizam said further inspections showed there were two tankers with a fuel pump and a 500m oil hose believed to be used in illegal oil transfer at an oil palm plantation factory.
“Tanker checks revealed that they had more than 80,000 litres of subsidised diesel prior to the transfer.
“Two local lorry drivers were detained for failing to show their licences; both admitted to driving from Seremban to the location, and they lacked proper documentation on possessing the controlled item,” he said.
Nurul Hizam also said it was the second time a foreign-registered vessel has been detained in Malaysian waters.
On Jan 20, a vessel was detained for illegally anchoring some 1.5 nautical miles southeast of Teluk Ramunia in Johor waters.
Nurul Hizam said all the suspects, aged between 19 and 60, were being held to assist in investigations.
He said the case would be investigated under Section 491B (1) (K) of the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952, Regulation 18 of the Control of Supply (Amendment) Act 2021, Regulation 21 of the Control of Supply Regulations 1974, and the Customs Act 1967.