10 Malaysian syndicates behind causeway smuggling racket

JOHOR BARU - At least 10 local syndicates are involved in the smuggling of cigarettes and liquor from Singapore via the Second Link and Johor Causeway.

The syndicates, mostly based in Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak, Penang and Selangor, are raking in at least RM15million (S$5.8 million) each month bringing in their goods from warehouses in Singapore.

Sources said the goods were declared as "on transit" and were not subject to taxes in the island, and allowed to be kept in Customs-controlled warehouses.

"In some cases, the liquor and cigarettes are declared in Singapore but the syndicates try to smuggle it into Malaysia under the guise of electronic parts or inside empty lorries to avoid paying high taxes and duties," sources added.

The sources said that the syndicates were well-connected as, besides having tontos (lookouts), they also have insiders within the Customs Department to help.

The sources added that Singapore does not impose stringent checks on cigarettes and liquor being exported as no duties were involved.

"The Government should place more armed Customs officials at both the checkpoints.

"The administration should also install spikes to prevent smugglers from dashing through security barriers in their vehicles.

"The scanners at the checkpoints must be checked regularly to prevent breakdowns," the sources added.

There is a huge demand for smuggled cigarettes which are sold at RM10 for three packets against RM12 for a usual packets.

Johor police chief Senior Deputy Police Commissioner Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff slammed the smugglers as hooligans, and vowed to get them.