KUALA LUMPUR - Retailers of illegal cigarettes thought they could get away with selling the contraband at night to evade the notice of Customs.
But the game was up when Customs officers conducted night raids on several outlets across the country over the past two days, and arrested seven retailers.
In the Chow Kit area here, the officers detained a man in his 30s who was found selling illegal cigarettes at his shop. Seven packs were seized and destroyed on the spot.
At the Subang Light Industrial Park in Subang Jaya, a convenience store was raided and 47 packs of illegal cigarettes seized.
The officers arrested an Indonesian who was manning the store. The owner, a fellow Indonesian with PR status, was away in Acheh, according to his wife who was present.
In Johor Baru, Customs officers uncovered more than 60 cartons of the contraband hidden in the kitchen of a mini market in Taman Teratai. An Indian national in his 20s was arrested.
In Seremban, a retailer in Taman Senawang Jaya who had been caught before for selling illegal cigarettes was once again arrested for the same offence.
Repeat offenders face jail up to five years, a maximum fine of RM500,000, or both.
Customs officers also made successful raids on several outlets in Alor Gajah (Malacca), Kampung Seberang Ramai (Perlis), Jalan Karak (Pahang) and Batu Maung (Penang). Three retailers were arrested.
The seized items from all the raids were mainly John, LA, Gudang Garam and Vampire cigarettes. The raids were carried out under the Customs Department's ongoing Ops Outlet nationwide crackdown on retailers selling contraband cigarettes.