JOHOR BARU - Smugglers have resorted to throwing contraband cigarettes into the surrounding waters to be picked up by their local counterparts as a way of evading authorities.
Southern Region Two marine police commander Asst Comm Paul Khiu Khon Chiang said they stumbled on the latest tactic when some RM181,400 worth of illicit cigarettes were found floating in Mersing waters at around noon on Wednesday.
He said that following this, a special operation was launched, after which over 18,000 packets of illicit cigarettes were recovered between Pulau Rimau and Pulau Setindan.
"The packets were wrapped in a plastic sheet to keep them dry and stay afloat after they were dumped overboard.
"We believe that syndicates are now finding it more difficult to smuggle items into Malaysia and are looking for new ways to avoid detection," he told reporters here yesterday.
ACP Khiu said investigations showed that the cigarettes were smuggled from a neighbouring country, adding that efforts were under way to trace those involved.
"We believe that there is a demand for illicit cigarettes, especially among locals, because they are cheaper than the brands available here."