Customs seize contraband worth RM13.4mil

SEREMBAN: Customs have crippled two syndicates and seized contraband cigarettes and alcoholic beverages worth some RM13.4mil in separate operations in Selangor.

Negri Sembilan Customs director Mohammad Hafiz Ishak said in the first operation around noon on Feb 26, his men seized three containers from Northport in Klang.

He said upon checking, they found 97,200 beer cans and 30,392 liquor bottles of various brands worth some RM3.2mil, inclusive of unpaid duties.

“The syndicate’s modus operandi was to smuggle the contraband into the country and then to sell it at a cheaper price locally,” he said.

The containers are believed to have been shipped in from ports in the Middle East and the Far East.

“We are also probing if the consignment was to be taken to a third country from Northport,” he said.

He said an individual believed to be the importer and an agent in their 40s were also detained.

Mohamad Hafiz said in the second operation around 4pm on March 1, his men seized five containers and two lorries from a premises in Pandamaran.

He said they found 591,000 packets of cigarettes, 51,936 beer cans and 5,576 liquor bottles worth some RM10.2mil, inclusive of unpaid duties.

“All the items seized did not have tax stamps and we believe these have also been illegally brought in. We also seized the lorries and the containers as part of our investigation,” he said.

Mohamad Hafiz said three suspects – the owner of the premises and two foreigners aged between 30 and 50 – were detained.

“We are also probing if both cases are connected,” he said.

The cases, he said were being probed under sections 135(1)(d) and 135(1)(e) of the Customs Act 1967 for non-payment of duties.

Those convicted could be fined between 10 and 20 times the value of the goods or between RM100,000 and RM500,000, whichever is higher, or jailed between six months and five years, or both.

He said the first case was also being investigated under Rule 30(1) of the Free Zone Regulations 1991 for failure to obtain the necessary permits to bring in the goods.