Malaysia continues crackdown on illegal cigarettes

Malaysia continues crackdown on illegal cigarettes

KUALA LUMPUR - The nationwide crackdown on illegal cigarettes continues, with Customs officers raiding several outlets in Bayan Lepas (Penang), Sitiawan (Perak) and Kota Baru (Kelantan).

Three retailers were arrested in Kota Baru after an eight-man Customs enforcement team found cartons of illegal cigarettes hidden under the counter at their shops on Monday.

The three suspects, aged between 20 and 40, will face charges of possession of and selling contraband cigarettes.

Meanwhile, a retailer is expected to be charged with similar offences in a magistrate's court in Kuantan today, after Customs officers seized about 30 cartons of the contraband from him in a recent raid.

Under Section 135(1)(d) of the Customs Act 1967, those caught selling illegal cigarettes could be jailed up to three years, fined up to 20 times the value of the seized items, or both.

The raids were conducted under Ops Outlet launched by the Royal Customs Department on March 5.

Between Jan 2 and Aug 12, Customs offi­­cers raided 4,317 outlets and seized 190 million sticks of illegal cigarettes from 1,444 outlets.

A total of 952 retailers were arrested, of whom 455 were charged in court.

Many of those taken to court were compounded and jailed.

On Aug 17, a 37-year-old man was jailed a year and fined RM1,097,420 by a magistrate's court in Kuala Terengganu after he pleaded guilty to possession of 10,907 cartons of illegal cigarettes on Jan 27 in premises near a house.

He also admitted to a second charge of possession of 2,000 cartons of illegal cigarettes valued at RM20,000 on the same day.

The cigarettes were seized from a nearby lorry.

The man was jailed one week and fined RM200,000 for the second offence.

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