BUKIT KAYU HITAM, Kedah - Seven Thais and two locals were detained in raids conducted by the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry at illegal depots near the Malaysian-Thai border, where RM1.6 million (S$622,608) worth of subsidised fuel was seized.
The ministry's deputy director of enforcement (development) Datuk Iskandar Halim Sulaiman said the raids were carried out at four illegal depots in Durian Burung in Kedah and Wang Kelian in Perlis on Tuesday.
"In all, 48,650 litres of petrol and 790 litres of diesel worth RM1.6 million were seized from the raids," he said, adding that the locations were near the border entry point.
"We also picked up seven Thais and two local suspects, aged between 20 and 30, who are believed to be involved in fuel smuggling activities.
"They have been remanded for four days to facilitate investigations," Iskandar told a press conference at the ministry's premises here.
He said the illegal depots were run by four syndicates which worked closely among themselves.
Their modus operandi, he said, was to purchase diesel and petrol from certain service stations using modified vehicles.
"They then gathered the fuel at the depots before delivering it to their Thai counterparts," Iskandar added.
He said on Sept 30, four raids were carried out at three illegal fuel stores in Penang, where 81,520 litres of diesel, 1,300 litres of petrol and 16,962 litres of liquefied petroleum gas worth RM1 million were seized.
"The method used to smuggle out the fuel was almost similar to that used by the syndicates in Kedah and Perlis," he said, adding that they believed the fuel was sold for industrial use.
No arrest was made during the Penang raids.
He said all the cases would be investigated under Section 22 of the Control of Supplies Act 1961. If found guilty, the offender will be liable to a fine up to RM100,000 or a jail term of not more than three years or both.
For repeat offenders, a fine of a maximum RM250,000 or a jail term of up to five years or both can be imposed.
The penalty for companies is a fine of not more than RM250,000 while for a second offence, it is up to RM500,000.