New mouse trails a ‘cause for concern’, says officer

James Kon

Law enforcement agencies face unprecedented challenges in stopping contraband from being smuggled into the country, due to the recurring emergence of new illegal routes (mouse trails).

This was highlighted by Assistant Customs Officer at the Royal Customs and Excise Department Haji Arfian bin Haji Abdul Kadir during the law enforcement forum held in conjunction with the Brunei Unified campaign at The Mall, Gadong yesterday.

Haji Arfian said, “Undeniably, the control of mouse trails is not an easy task because the areas bordering our neighbouring countries are too broad to control and monitor.

“These areas stretch from Pandan to Kuala Lurah. When we discover a mouse trail and close it, a new route will emerge for use by smugglers. This is a challenge for us.

“At present, the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) through the ‘C’ Reserve Unit conducts frequent patrols along the border with the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) personnel.

“The RBPF and RBAF have also established an operations room at the Limau Manis Police Station for detection and monitoring of criminal activities at the border, including smuggling.

Panellists and moderator at the panel. PHOTO: JAMES KON

“Smugglers use mouse trails to sneak contraband into the country, especially when there is a high demand for them. There is currently a high demand for cigarettes, alcohol and fresh meat.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the smuggling of cigarettes and alcohol increased. Individuals allowed to bring in alcohol and cigarettes by declaring with Royal Customs and Excise Department are unable to do so anymore due to travel restrictions. This is one of the main factors.

“The latest identified trend is smuggling through mouse trails in the Temburong District as it borders Limbang. Smugglers also make use of the Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Bridge to sneak in contraband items to the Brunei-Muara District.

“This is the latest challenge faced by law enforcement agencies. There are also worries that weapons and drugs are being smuggled into the country.”

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Mokti bin Haji Mohd Daud was the guest of honour at the campaign.

Brunei Unified, organised by Qudoz Event Management Services, aims to unite the people of Brunei Darussalam in achieving the goals of Brunei Vision 2035.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officer at the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Muhammad Abu Nor Shamsul bin Haji Mohammad highlighted the challenges in curbing drug misuse in the country.

He said, “Smugglers look for alternative ways to enter the country. For this reason, we need public assistance and support, especially from village residents and village heads, to provide information on drug smuggling activities.”

In addition, Haji Zuneidy bin Jumat from the religious law enforcement stressed on the importance of enhancing religious teachings and understanding.