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Syndicate adopts new modus operandi to sneak in illicit cigarettes: Customs

SEREMBAN: The Royal Malaysian Customs Department has detected new tactics by smugglers to cart in illicit cigarettes via private jetties.
Its deputy director-general, (Enforcement and Compliance), Datuk Zulkifli Yahya said, instead of using secret trails; the syndicate has now turned to private jetties to avoid detection by the authorities.
“The syndicate also use legally registered vessel and have diverted from their original route to smuggle cigarettes,” he said.
He added the new modus operandi was discovered following the arrest of 16 people for alleged involvement with a syndicate to smuggle cigarettes into the country through a private jetty in Lukut, Port Dickson recently.
The syndicate was crippled by the state Customs Department, who seized 8.98 million cigarettes with a total value of RM7 million and arrested 16 men including seven locals aged 20 to 47 during the operation at 12.30am on July 10.
Zulkifli said the vessel, which was registered under a Mongolian company, had the permission to travel from Jurong Singapore to Medan Indonesia, before it changed its route by stopping at the jetty to smuggle in the cigarettes.
“This modus operandi is the first case we have encountered so far. Before this, illegal activities were only conducted using small boats with remote areas chosen as their landing sites to avoid detection by the authorities.
“We have ordered all teams including the intelligence team from the department to increase monitoring and surveillance to prevent similar activities from recurring,” he said during a press conference held at the state Customs Department headquarters, here today.
Zulkifli added all 16 suspects detained in the operation were being investigated under Section 135 (1) (d) of the Customs Act 1967 for importing without following the legal procedure, which carries a minimum fine of 10 times the value of the goods and a maximum of 20 times the value of goods, or imprisonment maximum of three years or both.

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