MMEA arrests nine, seizes RM2.5M of smuggled cigarettes, liquor

JOHOR BAHRU (Bernama) – The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) foiled an attempt last Saturday to smuggle into the country various brands of cigarettes and liquor valued at RM2.5 million.

An MMEA team intercepted a boat carrying the contraband at about 6pm about 1.9 nautical miles off Tanjung Piai, Pontian, arrested the nine Indonesian crew and seized the goods, MMEA Southern Region director Datuk Abu Bakar Idris said yesterday.

“The MMEA team on patrol became suspicious upon spotting the boat anchored in the waters. 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 said to reporters.

Abu Bakar said the boat flew the Singapore flag to trick the authorities.

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.

Abu Bakar also said that the MMEA 13th anniversary would be celebrated on February 15 with the theme ‘Warga Cemerlang Maritim Gemilang’ (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 February 25 beginning 9am,” he said.

Various activities, such as visits to MMEA vessels, career guidance exhibition and blood donation, would be held, he added.