MERSING (BERNAMA) – Three tour boat operators were nabbed for allegedly involved in smuggling contraband cigarettes during a raid at a jetty in Enda on Friday, involving seizures worth MYR9.32 million.
Johor Police Chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the three local men, aged between 27 and 52, were nabbed while unloading the cigarettes into a lorry.
“A total of 930 cigarette packs of various brands from Vietnam and Indonesia as well as two five-tonne lorries, a tourist boat, two radar units and a GPS were seized during the raid.
“The contraband cigarettes are worth MYR7.66 million while the whole seizure is valued at MYR9.32 million,” he told reporters at the Marine Police Force Operations Headquarters yesterday.
Elaborating, Ayob Khan said their modus operandi was to wait for a large international vessel in Johor waters before using modified tourist boats to transfer the items out.
“They are using modified tourist boats which were previously used to carry tourists for diving activities,” he said, adding that the group was believed to have been active since March last year.
He said the group also used other boxes such as mineral water boxes to cover up the cigarettes in the lorry to avoid being detected by the authorities.
Ayob Khan said the police believed that the group was only part of cigarette smuggling syndicates that are active in the waters of east Johor, adding that the contraband items were suspected to be for the Johor and Pahang markets.
All the suspects have been remanded until tomorrow and one of them has a criminal record.
The case is being investigated under Section 135(1)(D) of the Customs Act 1967.