‘Safe house’ for cigarette smuggling racket raided

KOTA KINABALU: A seemingly ordinary house turned out to be a place to store illicit cigarettes smuggled from neighbouring countries before being sold in local markets in the east coast Semporna district.

Customs officers found over a million cigarette sticks worth more than RM680,000 at the house in Kampung Kubang Jaya during a raid on Nov 24 following public tip-offs.

Sabah Customs assistant director-general Datuk Mohd Nasir Deraman said personnel from the Tawau branch office found a total of 1,009,600 sticks of contraband cigarettes of various brands during the operation.

“The cigarettes are worth RM183,520, with unpaid duty of RM510,168,” he said during a press conference yesterday.

“Our men also detained a man, aged in his 60s, who was the houseowner.

“The modus operandi of the smugglers involved using unmarked houses to temporarily stash cigarettes sneaked in from neighbouring countries,” he said.

Mohd Nasir said they were probing further on the origins of the cigarettes, adding that the suspect will be charged soon in court.

“The evidence and suspect have been brought to the Customs office for investigations under Section 135(1)(d) of the Customs Act 1976,” he added.

He urged the public to cooperate with the authorities to weed out smuggling activities, which he said could be a national security risk besides costing the nation in revenue.

The public may reach the Customs Department at its toll-free number at 1-800-88-8855.

“Informants’ identities will be kept confidential,” said Mohd Nasir.

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cigarette smuggling , Customs


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