Malaysian customs seize illicit cigs during nationwide ops

Malaysian customs seize illicit cigs during nationwide ops

JOHOR BARU - Customs officers walked into a mini market in Skudai and asked the worker manning the shop whether there were cheap ­cigarettes available.

The 32-year-old Indian national showed the officers several brands of smuggled cigarettes and was promptly arrested.

A search of the shop ­uncovered various brands of contraband ­cigarettes, including Gudang Garam, NYX, Nusantara, Supernova and Canyon.

The shop in Taman Selesa Jaya was among several outlets nationwide that were raided this week under the Customs Department's Ops Outlet crackdown on illegal cigarettes.

Illegal cigarettes are smuggled into the country to avoid paying duty and are sold between RM3.50 (S$1.32) and RM5.

An estimated RM2 billion in taxes is lost annually to the illegal cigarette trade.

In Penang, a grocery store owner in his 40s was arrested after Customs officers found contraband cigarettes at his premises in Batu Maung.

The man looked frightened when the officers identified themselves before searching his shop in Jalan Permatang Damar Laut.

They found more than 15 boxes of contraband John, Gudang Garam and Luffman cigarettes under the cashier counter.

Two retailers were arrested in Kota Baru and Seremban for similar offences. Raids were also conducted in Kuala Lumpur, Perak, Pahang and Terengganu.

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.

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