Malaysian Customs Seize RM65m of Contraband Cigarettes in Two Raids at Port of Tanjung Pelepas

February 17:  The Royal Malaysian Customs Department foiled attempts to smuggle in 76.4 million sticks of contraband cigarettes worth RM65.4 million in two separate raids at the Port of Tanjung Pelepas recently.

Customs director-general Datuk Paddy Abd Halim said the combined seizures were the largest by the department so far this year.

He said the first case involved a raid by the Gelang Patah Customs Enforcement branch at the Port of Tanjung Pelepas here on January 28.

“A container measuring 12.19 metres was inspected at 4pm after it was marked as wooden furniture in the bill of lading and also the cargo manifest.

“The item’s country of origin was also marked as China.

“According to information from the Southern Zone Customs Intelligence Branch and the Port of Tanjung Pelepas Customs Department, the container was believed to have been in the port for about a month,” Paddy said during a press conference at the Gelang Patah Customs Enforcement branch here today.

He was accompanied by Johor Customs director Datuk Mohammad Hamidan Maryani and the department’s other senior officers.

A bill of lading refers to a detailed list of a ship’s cargo in the form of a receipt given by the master of the ship to the person consigning the goods.

A manifest is a customs document listing the cargo, passengers, and crew of a ship, aircraft, or vehicle, for the use of customs and other officials.

In the first case, Paddy said the container held furniture and boxes containing the contraband cigarettes with the M&R Super Slim brand.

“The total amount of cigarettes seized was 11,040 kg in 69,000 cartons or 13,800,000 sticks with an estimated total, including tax, at RM10,322,400,” he said.

In the second case, Paddy said the Johor Customs Enforcement Branch came across a smuggling attempt and inspected six containers of the same size at the Port of Tanjung Pelepas after becoming suspicious of the bill of lading on February 3.

Upon inspection, he said the containers were found to contain contraband cigarettes with brands such as John Player Special and Richmond Real Blue.

“The amount of contraband cigarettes seized was 62,640,000 cigarettes with an estimated total including tax at RM55,123,200.

“We have not initiated any arrests yet and the case is being investigated under Section 52 of the Customs Act 1967, which provides for fines of not more than RM100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both,” said Paddy, adding that the case is also being investigated under Regulation 18 of the Free Zone Regulations 1991, which provides for fines not exceeding RM50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both, if convicted.

Last year, the Customs Department seized a total of 466.16 million sticks of cigarettes with taxes worth RM344.95 million.

The figures showed a decline compared to the year before in 2017.

Source: Malay Mail / Ben Tan

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