SIBU, June 18: The Royal Malaysian Customs Department (RMCD) Sarawak seized 70,960,000 sticks of contraband cigarettes worth about RM6.3 million involving duties and taxes of about RM47.4 million at Bintulu Port.
Acting on a tip-off, the Bintulu Customs enforcement team made a search on a vessel arriving at the port at 11.30pm on June 12.
Sarawak Customs director Datuk Sharifah Halimah Tuanku Taha said a review of the cargo loading plan document submitted by the ship captain found that 129 containers had not been declared in the entry list including seven containers suspected to contain regular cigarettes.
“An inspection was conducted at 1am the following morning and it was found that all the containers contained cigarettes of various brands that were believed to have not been approved by customs,” she said in a media statement on Thursday (June 18).
The containers were later seized and taken to the Bintulu enforcement office for further action.
“I believe that the contraband cigarettes were shipped into the state using commercial vessels before being sent to other destinations through the Bintulu port. This is to prevent activity being detected by the authorities,” she said.
Commenting on the modus operandi of the smuggling operation, Sharifah Halimah said items were declared in the manifest as general cargo and the importing company was a registered shipping agent.
The case is being investigated under Section 133 (1) (d) of the Customs Act 1967, which carries a fine not exceeding RM500,000 or imprisonment not exceeding seven years or both.
Customs Malaysia is appealing to the public to cooperate by providing information on smuggling activities by calling its Toll Free Line 1-800-88-8855 or the public complaint website at http://aduan.customs.gov.my or contacting any of the nearest customs offices. —DayakDaily