MMEA thwarts attempt to smuggle turtle meat from 1,000 animals near Kudat


KUDAT: An attempt to smuggle turtle-dried meat to foreign markets has been foiled by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) during Ops Pluto Timur/Op Tiris in the waters off Kampung Tajau Laut.

Approximately 1,000 turtles were believed to have been killed to meet the demand in foreign markets.

Kudat Maritime Zone Director, Maritime Commander Maurice Grenville Abeyeratne, said his team, while on patrol at 10.27pm, detected a boat engaged in suspicious activities.

"The patrol team then moved to the location, but the shallow waters made it difficult for the patrol boat to approach the suspicious vessel for inspection," Comm Aberyatne told Sinar Harian.

"The suspects, realising the presence of MMEA enforcers, fled the area, leaving sacks on the beach," he said in a statement on Wednesday (May 29).

He added that assets from the land were deployed to inspect the location since the patrol boat could not get close to the beach.

"Inspections found 51 sacks containing dried turtle meat, estimated to weigh 765 kilogrammes. This suggests around 1,000 turtles were killed by this syndicate.

"In addition, 19 sacks of balat (sea cucumber) were also found. All the items were left behind and believed to be intended for smuggling to foreign markets," he said.

Maurice stated that the total value of the seized items is estimated to be over RM500,000.

"All seized items were brought to the Kudat Maritime Zone Office for further investigation. The case is being investigated under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 (attempting to smuggle meat of an endangered species)," he said.

Maurice reminded the maritime community in Kudat to report any criminal activities at sea to MMEA for further action.

"The public can contact us directly via 088-611858 (Kudat Operations Centre) and the 999 emergency line, which operates 24 hours," he said.

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