Malaysia stepping up security to curb ketum smuggling

BUKIT KAYU HITAM (BERNAMA) – The General Operations Force (GOF) in Malaysia will intensify efforts to tighten security at the country’s borders to curb large-scale smuggling of ketum leaves to neighbouring countries.

Northern Brigade GOF Deputy Commander ACP Mohamed Rafiq Mohamed Mustafa said this follows the Thai government’s move to legalise the use of ketum and marijuana products for medical purposes.

“We believe that in the future, the demand for ketum leaves will increase as the Thai government has moved to remove ketum from its list of narcotics. Ketum has high demand in Thailand.

“Therefore, the GOF will work harder and increase monitoring and intelligence as well as periodic checks to prevent anyone from smuggling ketum leaves into neighbouring countries,” he said at a press conference yesterday.

Mohamed Rafiq said 47 cases involving the smuggling of 12,560kg of ketum leaves worth over RM1.8 million were solved by GOF Battalion 1 from Ulu Kinta, Perak, under the operation Op Wawasan Kedah/Perlis from November 23, 2019 until yesterday.

Northern Brigade GOF Deputy Commander ACP Mohamed Rafiq Mohamed Mustafa with seized ketum leaves. PHOTO: BERNAMA

“This shows that every day there are smugglers just waiting for the right time to smuggle out (ketum) before we foil their attempts through our patrolling and intelligence, and this effort will continue,” he said.

He said the GOF also seized 55 sacks containing 258 snakes worth RM57,000 left in a hut at Felda Mata Ayer, Perlis on December 24.

Mohamed Rafiq said he believed the snakes were to be smuggled out, as they were considered exotic food in neighbouring countries.

“After several hours of observation, we found that no one had come to claim the sacks, so we seized and handed them over to the Wildlife and National Parks Department for further action,” he said. He said throughout the operation, nine individuals comprising Myanmar nationals, Thais and locals were arrested for trafficking and drug-related crimes.

“A total of 40 vehicles of various types worth RM334,000, 20 units of mobile phones, jewellery and cash amounting to almost RM8,000 were also seized for further investigation,” he said.