Tawau MMEA foils attempt to smuggle cosmetics products hidden among bananas

KOTA KINABALU: Authorities intercepted a 35-year-old Indonesian skipper attempting to smuggle in cosmetics products without a permit under the pretext of transporting bananas in Tawau waters on Thursday (Dec 4).

Among the products hidden in the boat were 423 cosmetics sets, 264 bottles of medicated oil of various brands, 200 deodorant spray bottles and several health products registered under the neighbouring country, said Tawau zone Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director Maritime Captain Shahrizan Raman.

Shahrizan, in a statement on Friday (Dec 5), said the value of confiscated goods, including the cargo boat and the engine, totalled RM56,000.

He said their patrol team was conducting Ops Sejahtera and Ops Pluto Timur when they traced the suspicious boat moving from Pulau Sebatik towards Tawau mainland.

“They stopped the vessel at 1.9 nautical miles north of Sungai Pukul and conducted an inspection where they found the skipper transporting the agricultural product, namely bananas.

“However, further probe found various cosmetics items hidden under the bananas, believed to be from the neighbouring nation.

“The skipper failed to produce a valid permit and a valid license for the cosmetics,” he explained.

The skipper and the seized items were brought to the Tawau maritime jetty for investigation under the Customs Act 1967, Poisons Act 1952 and Cosmetics and Drugs Control Regulations 1984, said Shahrizan.

Meanwhile, in a separate case on Friday, a local skipper was detained in possession of a crystalline drugs substance suspected to be syabu onboard a boat 1.5 nautical mile north-west of Sungai Haji Kuning, Pulau Sebatik there.

Shahrizan said the patrol team saw the suspicious vessel and, upon inspection of the skipper, found the 0.5 grammes of drugs and drug paraphernalia in a sling bag he was carrying.

“Suspect was brought to Tawau maritime jetty for urine test and further investigation.

“All seized items, including the boat and its engine, were estimated to value at RM22,000 in total, and the case has been handed to the investigating officer to be handled under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 for possessing drugs,” he added.