Pix Hairul Anuar Abd Rahim
JOHOR BARU: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) scored their biggest bust of the year in Johor when they foiled an attempt to smuggle into the country various brands of cigarettes and liquor valued at RM2.5 million.
The bust took place when a MMEA team intercepted a barter trade boat carrying the contraband items at about 6 pm about 1.9 nautical miles off Tanjung Piai, Pontian.
MMEA Southern Region director Datuk Abu Bakar Idris said acting on a public-tip-off that a barter trade vessel was smuggling cigarettes and liquor, a special MMEA team began its stake out.
He said after several days of stake out the MMEA team on patrol became suspicious when they spotted the boat anchored in the waters off Tanjung Piai.
Abu Bakar said the boat flew the Singapore flag in order to trick the authorities.
“A check on the boat revealed 916,500 cartons of cigarettes and 3,048 bottles of liquor of various brands hidden under canvas sheets.
“We arrested the nine crew, including the skipper, all aged between 25 and 53. All of them had passports but the skipper failed to present the relevant documents,” he told reporters here today at the MMEA Gelang Patah Jetty today.
Abu Bakar adds that upon further investigation the skipper failed to submit the import documents required to bring in the cigarettes and liquor concerned
The seizure of the contraband valued at RM2.5 million was the biggest so far in the waters of Johor, he said.
“We will continue to step up patrols in the waters of Johor to curb the widespread smuggling and other crimes,” he said.
According to him, the crew members are being investigated under Section 135 (1) (D) of the Customs Act 1967. If convicted can be fined a minimum of 10 times worth of seizure or three years jail or both.
Meanwhile, Abu Bakar also said that the MMEA 13th anniversary would be celebrated on Feb 15 with the theme Workforce of Excellence, Maritime Force of Glory.
“In conjunction with the event, MMEA will hold a Maritime Vessel Open Day at the MMEA jetty in Sungai Pulai on Feb 25 beginning 9 am,” he said.
Various activities, such as visits to MMEA vessels, career guidance exhibition and blood donation, would be held, he added.