IPOH: More than RM2mil worth of contraband cigarettes were seized during two separate raids by the Perak Customs Department, says Datuk Abdul Ghafar Mohamad.
The department director said the operations were conducted on Thursday (Nov 23).
“The first raid was done at an empty house around 1.30pm in a residential area in Sitiawan where our enforcement officers found a total of 2,568,470 cigarette sticks worth RM2,032,372.21 inside the house.
“We believe that they kept the items because of unpaid duties,” he said during a press conference at the Perak Customs Department headquarters in Taman Meru here on Monday (Nov 27).
The second case, conducted earlier at 10.30am on Nov 23, saw RM100,907.40 of various cigarette brands found at an abandoned house in Pantai Remis.
“There were 127,200 sticks of cigarettes stored in the living room of the house. We also believe that the confiscated items are kept due to unpaid duties,” he added.
Abdul Ghafar said the department was working with other agencies to find the homeowners.
“It took us about a week before conducting the raids. These contrabands were found in boxes wrapped in plastics.
“There were various brands found which we believe were smuggled through the sea. Based on our previous cases, we believe that some are from Vietnam and Indonesia. The contrabands are believed to be for the local market.
“This is also the biggest operation we have conducted this year,” he said.
The cases are under Section 135(1)(d) of the Customs Act 1967, an offence punishable under Section 135(1)(v)(aa) of the same legislation.
Offenders can be fined 10 times the value of the goods or RM100,000, whichever is higher, or jailed between six months and five years, or both upon conviction.
Separately, Abdul Ghafar said more than 420 cases have been conducted by the state department from January to November this year.
“From the total, about 250 cases were fraud involving trades and the remaining are on documents.
“To date, the total value of confiscated items such as contraband, liquors, vehicles, and drugs are more than RM11mil,” he added.
He urged the public to help the department fight the smuggling of cigarettes, liquor, drugs and vehicles, and advised them not to get involved in such activities.
“Smuggling not only harms the country in terms of lost revenue, but it also poses a threat to national security and the well-being of the people.
“The public can cooperate by channeling any information related to smuggling by calling the Customs toll-free line at 1-800-88-8855, or the nearest Customs offices in all states," he said, adding that the identity of all informants or whistleblowers would be kept confidential.