SEREMBAN: Malaysian Customs made its largest haul of contraband cigarettes in the state this year when it seized almost nine million sticks from a vessel at a private jetty in Port Dickson worth approximately RM7mil.
Customs deputy director-general (enforcement and compliance) Datuk Zulkifli Yahya said based on a manifest seized from the Mongolia-registered 168 tonne vessel, the illicit cigarettes had been shipped from Jurong in Singapore and were bound for Medan in Indonesia.
“When we raided the jetty, half of the contraband cigarettes were already in a lorry and the other half were still in the 35-metre long vessel. When we asked the vessel operator for a transit permit, he was unable to produce one,” Zulkifli told reporters at the state Customs office here.
He said the illicit cigarettes with the “SAAT” brand name were seized in an operation on July 11, adding that 16 individuals, including nine foreigners, were detained.
He said this was the first time Customs had seized contraband cigarettes brought in by a vessel to a private jetty.
“Even if the cigarettes were in transit, the importer is required to produce a permit to bring in the goods.
“This is a new ruling which came into force in April this year,” he said, adding that Customs have seized the vessel and the lorry used to transport the contraband goods.
Zulkifli said action can be taken against owners who allowed such goods to be unloaded at their jetties.
The case is being investigated under section 135(1)(d) of the Customs Act 1967.
Offenders can be fined between 10 times and 20 times the value of the goods and jailed up to three years or both upon conviction.