KUALA LUMPUR - Customs officers revisited several outlets nationwide that they had raided before for illegal cigarettes and arrested two repeat offenders.
In Malacca, a mini market shopkeeper in Masjid Tanah was caught with 10 cartons of illegal cigarettes during a Customs raid at 11am yesterday.
The second repeat offender was arrested in Butterworth yesterday when Customs officers searched her bookstore in Bagan Ajam and found 25 cartons of illegal cigarettes.
The contraband seized from these outlets were mainly John cigarettes.
In Kota Baru, Customs officers arrested two retailers on Monday for selling illegal cigarettes.
They were picked up from their shops in Kampung Belukar and Jalan Pintu Geng.
The seized items include John, Surya and Gudang Garam cigarettes.
Illegal cigarettes are smuggled into the country to avoid paying duty and are sold between RM3.50 and RM5.
An estimated RM2bil in taxes is lost annually to the illegal cigarette trade.
To stem this loss, the Customs Department launched Ops Outlet on March 5, a nationwide crackdown on retailers selling illegal cigarettes.
Since then, about 1,000 retailers have been detained, and about half of those arrested charged in court.
Yesterday, a man was fined RM50,000 by a magistrate's court in Alor Setar for possession of 72,360 sticks of illegal cigarettes, while a retailer in Penang was jailed one day and fined RM2,400 in Bukit Mertajam for having 2,080 sticks of illegal cigarettes.
Those caught selling smuggled cigarettes could be jailed up to three years, fined up to 20 times the value of the seized items, or both.
Repeat offenders face jail up to five years, a fine up to 40 times the value of the seized items, or both.